THE GALLANT FIVE by Henrietta Siksek


Email this review


This short novel is about the circumstances surrounding the establishment of the five major bloodlines of the always fascinating Arabian horse. These were established by Mohammed in the 7th Century. He had decreed an endurance test at Mecca at which only five mares met his qualifications. Five thirteen-year-old Bedouin boys had captured the mares from a herd living wild in the valley of the Nejd. Dazzled by the beauty of a white mare, the boys had stayed behind their tribe in desert country to effect the capture. Ali and Hani each want the white mare. It goes to Hani through Ali's daring slaughter of a charging lion that had been heading toward Hani and the horse. The boys return to their tribes as heroes -- to raise and train their coveted steeds under the direction of their horse-wise tribesmen. With the winning of Mohammed's endurance test the boys's fortunes are made and Hani's white mare falls prey to a horse thief. It is Ali who recovers it for him and returns it, although the laws of the desert say that he can keep it. As if in answer to a prayer of long standing, his mare foals a white filly. Fact, legend and fiction are nicely blended here. Mrs. Siksek is a well-known Jordanian story teller and researched her materials at their source. The pen and ink drawings of the horses by Katherine Crapster are artfully careless and have motion, while those of people are neither well done nor necessary. There is a short glossary of the Arabic words used in the text.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1963
Publisher: McKay-Luce