Except for the colt's wings this is a typical realistic story -- with none of the hushed wonder that usually accompanies such a fantasy element -- in which the relationship between a boy and a man is intertwined with a boy's love for an animal. Another slight twist is Byars' telling of the first person story from the viewpoint not of wide-eyed bookworm Charles, who can't ride a horse but can cite all sorts of classical precedents for Alado's wings, but of Charles' Uncle Coot, a former stunt man with a bum hip and psychic scars, whom Charles still views as the superhero he first saw jumping a cliff in a Western movie. Precisely because he believes that Coot can do anything, Charles -- who comes to live on his uncle's ranch after his mother breaks her shoulder in a rodeo -- blames him for not protecting Alado in a storm during which the colt disappears. Then, when Alado returns but flies in fear to the top of a mesa, Uncle Coot makes his laborious way up the side to rescue him -- thus proving to Charles both his Own vulnerability and his commitment to the colt. Byars reworks the boy-man-horse formula with considerable skill but with none of the richly imagined vitality of her House of Wings (1972).