Doug Kane and Christy Wood's new Ice Horse Adventure Series is sure to charm any young horse lover.
It introduces a relatively unknown breed to young readers: The Icelandic horse. This smaller horse
comes from a sturdy, independent breed known for its hardiness and ability to think for itself. Though
very compatible with humans and easily trained, these horses have an exotic quality about them that
makes them ripe for the addition of special powers that the authors have imbued them for these tales.
The first book, Arielís Journey, begins with a dispute between 14-year-old Emily Miller and
her snooty tormentor Andrea Norton that leads to a wrestling match during one of their 4H equestrian
practices. When Emily's mother, a local physician, places the burden on Emily for settling the girls'
dispute, I thought how unrealistic this was—and perhaps dangerous, especially since Andrea had
two cohorts who were just as bullying. However, Dr. Miller devises a scheme to get the girls to get
along by arranging for an overnight trail ride in the local state park and arranges everything through
several of the 4H mothers. Luckily, neither of Andrea's two friends can make the trip so there are no
immediate camps created during the trip. Emily is joined by her 12-year-old sister Kim and her bookish
friend Darcy and by one of her close friends, Laura.
But this trip is not all that it appears. The horses have something else in mind and soon divert
the girls down another trail that leads them into the past, back to the thirteenth century in Iceland.
The horses also have the ability to speak to the girls telepathically and so do all of the other horses
in the herds they meet. And, it seems, the leader of the horses, Princessa, has been summoned by the
leader of one of those herds because two Icelandic villages are at war over resources and one village
chieftain has kidnapped the other chieftain's daughter, Gigja. Soon, the girls find themselves in a
plot to rescue Gigja, discovering a lot about friendship, courage, and responsibility along the way.
Mixed in with this grand adventure is a love story between Laura and young villager Reynir.
The authors use this visit into Iceland's past to give readers an understanding of the time period,
the horse breed, and how these horses normally fit into village life. The Icelandic horses also play a
part in Gigja's rescue.
Arielís Journey was a delight to read, especially to learn about these lovely horses. In fact,
I did some research on the Internet and was able to watch a video of these horses at a modern day
Icelandic horse exhibition. I'm sure other readers will be just as curious as I was.
I did have a couple of concerns about this book. One was the fact that the authors used Dr. Miller's
first name a lot and it was confusing in the beginning to determine whether this was another one of
the girl's friends or indeed was Emily's mother. The authors did that with all of the adults. Usually,
writers of young fiction just keep references to parents as Mr. and Mrs., only using first names when
they speak among themselves. It requires a closer reading when first names are used.
The other concern was the romance between Laura and Reynir. Though I didn't have a problem with a
few kisses between 14-year-olds, I was more concerned with the fact that a romance would develop across
time that would have no real way to be resolved. And, then, there is the old science-fiction caveat of
being careful of what you do in the past because it might just erase your future. It will be interesting
to see how Doug Kane and Christy Wood solve this. Princessa's Mission, the second book in the
series, is already in the works.