June has been a great reading month for me so far, I've been averaging about 110 pages per day, and that's much more than my norm, which is probably more like 60. Yes, I'm a geek, I keep track of my books read, and how many pages, and so on, I'm an Accountant remember, it's just what we do! ;)
Tonight I have just finished Airs Beneath the Moon by Toby Bishop, the first of the Horsemistress Saga. The winged horses are the pride of the Duchy of Oc, carefully bred to preserve the bloodlines, and bonded to girls who will be their riders for life, and who must remain pure or forever ruin their bonding. The girls and their horses learn many formations, that while beautiful to behold, are ultimately battle manuevers.
Far away from the grandeur of the city, into the farmlands of the duchy, a girl named Larkyn Hamley finds a little mare, roaming on her own. Unable to find it's owners, she keeps the horse, naming her Char. Before long it becomes apparent that Char is with foal, and while Lark has never had a horse before, she has grown up on the farm and knows a lot about tending animals. Unfortunately she is not able to save Char after the birth, but the foal is a beautiful little black colt, with wings! Lark stays with the colt, sleeping in his stall, caring for him in the absence of his mother, and creating a deeper bond than she was even aware of.
By the time the Academy of the Air is informed of this unusual winged birth, Lark and the colt have bonded so deeply, there is no choice but to bring Lark back to the Academy and begin training her. Lark faces the usual challenges of social class at the school, but manages to make a few good friends in spite of their differences. Her spunk is endearing, and her devotion to Tup unshakeable.
Duke Frederick, close friend of the Headmistresses of the school, is very ill following the disappearance of his daughter. His oldest son William takes the opportunity to begin furthering his own ambitions concerning the winged horses, having long been jealous of those that rode them, and the independence they enjoyed. Tup figures prominently in William's plans, and the Duke's son will go to great lengths to achieve his ends.
I loved horses when I was younger, and even had several for awhile, and there is something about riding that makes you feel like you're flying, so I could definitely relate to this story. A good fantasy tale that I'm looking forward to continuing in the next books out so far: Airs and Graces, and Airs of Night and Sea.
Please take a look at Toby Bishop's Website for more information on the author and her work.