Bad luck,"" plagues 12-year-old Oyuna and her family. Oyuna seems fated to live with the curse of her lame foot, crushed by a black mare, for the rest of her life. But the elderly Oyuna relates the plodding story to her granddaughter of how she changed her destiny in in 14th-century Mongolia. During the era of Kublai Khan, Oyuna's journey to self-confidence begins when she finds that she is able to communicate with a special white mare. When soldiers come to take the mare, Oyuna disguises herself as a boy to join Khan's army so she can be with the horse. Her adventures border on the absurd, e.g., she first stands up to Khan and then bonds with him. While there are some brave moments and dramatic scenes, readers will lose patience with the limping narrative and obvious moral.