December 28, 2012

The Black Stallion Legend by Walter Farley

Anyone growing up in the eighties, nineties, or even before has heard of the Black Stallion. It was such a popular book series that everyone had at least one of the books. This book, The Black Stallion Legend, is actually the last book in the series (there was one written after but it's a prequel) and it was written over forty years after the first book was. Which may account for why it's such a drastic change from the original tone of the series. And while you don't necessarily have to read the rest of the series to understand this book, it does help for character background.

Alec has been a bit distracted lately because of all the pressures of home. Sure he's a well known jockey. He's ready for a vacation and the distraction of his girlfriend, but when he learns that she has been killed in an auto accident, he loses it. Headed West, with his horse The Black Stallion in a trailer, he keeps driving and driving until he comes to a desert. There he stops and turns himself and The Black free only to discover that among the Native Americans in the area, they are the stuff of legend.

Alec is very very dark in this book. He ranges between grief, and rage, and hopelessness and it's sad and disturbing all at the same time. And it's actually pretty realistic of real grief and the range of emotions a person will experience when losing someone important in their lives. He has his horse, but even that is sporadic, especially out in the wild. His trainer, who features at the beginning of the book, is gruff and none to nice and I couldn't bring myself to like him in this book. Same with his dad, who seemed very indecisive and ineffective. Even the Native Americans weren't described that well. We had no sense of what kind of people they were, only that in their limited interaction with Alec they thought he was the person from their legend.

The plot was reaching a bit. It moved way too fast and there needed to be more detail for what Farley was trying to pull off with this novel. All the events and the way things happened just didn't seem quite right and the only way I could make them line up in my head was to imagine that Alec had gone into shock and was actually dreaming everything that happened. Otherwise, it just didn't make sense. This book, as said before, was decidedly gruesome and sad compared to the hopeful tone the other books seemed to carry. But it did contain a good lesson grief.

For an avid lover of the Black Stallion series, this book is going to be a shock and perhaps even a disappointment. It was almost as if Farley's personal grief was too much for him, and he poured it all out into his writing.

The Black Stallion Legend
Copyright 1983
177 pages

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