Friday Review – Morven and the Horse Clan by Luanne Armstrong

Hot off the presses! Luanne Armstrong just launched Morven & the Horse Clan this past week in British Columbia. I was fortunate to get an advance review copy and finished reading it a week ago. I loved reading Jean Aul’s books (Clan of the Cave Bear series) as an adult and I’m sure if Luanne’s book had been available when I was a teen, it would have hooked me into reading this kind of historical novel long before I’d heard of those other books. Doesn’t it have a beautiful cover? I love Relish New Brand Experience. They were responsible for both my book covers and I greatly appreciate Great Plains Publications for using the company, as their design work is exceptional. Okay, on with the review!

If ever a teenager felt like she didn’t belong, Morven would be it. Living in 3500 BC on the steppes of Kazakhstan, she has always felt as different as she looked from the others of her nomadic tribe. She could relate better with the animals in her world than the people. When she befriends a herd of wild horses, and one, in particular, she finally has a purpose and a role more important to her people than anyone thought possible. When Morven trains the black horse to be ridden, her people begin to see the horses as more than meat, but as a means to ease the burdens of traveling to where the food, and especially the water, was more plentiful. However, when she shares her knowledge with another clan, one young man sees more advantages than simply carrying people and things from place to place. He sees the horse as a means to conquer.

Despite the ancient time in which this story is set, I think modern teens could easily relate to Morven, as both her moodiness and reluctance to participate in her clan’s activities are similar symptoms to what a lot of teens experience, these days. I found the voice of Morven to be a little simplistic, on occasion, but I considered it a part of the story’s setting, since the language would not have been sophisticated at that time.

I think Luanne provides the reader with a wonderful glimpse into the customs and lifestyles of the nomadic tribes living on the steppes during this early point in their history. She does not ramble or expound into complex explanations of how things were done back then, like in the adult stories equivalent to this. She does give simple explanations of how things were done and why the people did things a particular way when it was necessary. As a result, I think it could be used as an excellent resource for teaching, as well as an enjoyable jaunt through history.

The set-up of the book also had a little treat for the reader. On the centre of each right-hand page was a silhouette of a horse in various stages of running so that, if you flip through the pages quickly, it creates a ‘movie’ of a galloping horse, like the flipbooks we all enjoyed as a kid. I hope you will pick up a copy of Morven and the Horse Clan, so you can enjoy a taste of our pre-history.


From the Back Cover

In 3500 BC, a killing drought forces Morven and her tribe to roam the steppes of Kazakhstan, struggling to survive. Fiercely independent and never quite feeling she belongs, Morven feels a greater kinship to animals than her own people. Despite ridicule, she befriends a herd of wild horses. She learns to ride and shows her clan the horses are not just a food source, but they can also help them survive. But it is not just Morven ’s people who are changed by knowledge. A brash young man from another tribe also learns from Morven. His goals, however, are not just to survive, but to conquer. Morven must learn to accept responsibility for the terrible changes she set in motion, and become a leader amongst her people, or they will die.

About the Author

Luanne Armstrong is the author of poetry, novels, non-fiction, and children ’s books. Her previous children ’s books have been nominated for numerous awards, including the Chocolate Lily award, the Red Cedar award, the Canadian Library Association ’ s Book of the Year and the Silver Birch Award. Luanne teaches Creative Writing online for the university of British Columbia and lives on her farm in BC.