THE HORSES AT THE GATE by Mary Mackey

THE HORSES AT THE GATE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Bestselling Mackey's sequel to 1993's The Year the Horses Came continues the confrontations of Marrah, fifth-century B.C. warrior woman, and her peaceful, Goddess-worshipping, gender-egalitarian city with the savage, patriarchal, war-making tribes of the (Ukrainian) plains. When first seen, Marrah is plodding on horseback through wind and snow, along with Hansi lover Stavan (who ain't gonna study war no more, having been introduced to the joys of peace and gender equality by Marah); Marrah's brother Arang; and two female former slaves--all escaping from Hansi warriors, a pursuing horde headed by the chief who'd captured them. After overcoming a renegade Hansi-pledged tribe--thanks to Marrah's wily ways and surprise spear-work by females--the group arrives at the home city of Shara. A happy interval ensues, and Marrah bears a brace of twins to Stavan. But then the warriors, led by a new, rather stupid chief, Vlahan, are on the march again, out to capture Arang and kill the traitor Stavan. Advised by a clever diviner, Vlahan begins the siege of Shara. Fortified by an initiation visit to the Dark Mother (who supplies dreams), Marrah and Arang direct the defense of the city. Dire news, though: It's reported that Stavan's been killed (don't believe it: life on the Goddess side is fairly upbeat), and the Hansi still have Marrah's small son. But with the death of Queen Lalah, Marrah's in charge, and queens don't cry. Through strategy and clever trickery, the city is secured, the enemy routed, and there are happy reunions all around--including a particularly joyous one as Guess Who trots in. More Amazonian adventures and high-minded talk about right and proper conduct and community well-being--all in an effortless narration as the good ladies take the lead, whether in worthy living or defending the Motherland. Elementary.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0595763146
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: HarperSanFransisco