THE HORSE GODDESS by Morgan Llywelyn


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700 B.C. Celts (Keltis) discover the horse's potential, and a Kelti woman joins nomadic Scythians of the eastern plains while working some psychic surprises and plumping for a bit of consciousness-raising. The Kelti tribe, living in the Blue Mountains (Austrian Alps), are peaceful traders, an Earth-Mother tribe settled in their traditionbound patterned existence; and their priests are known to have the ability to travel in the spirit world. Willful Epona, however, doesn't wish to be apprenticed to sinister chief priest Kernunnas, even though she certainly has a ""gift."" So, when four horsemen of the distant Scythians pound in one day--edgy, crude, riding on the backs of horses!--Epona takes off with Scythian leader Kazhak, who doesn't think much of women. Still, despite Epona's humiliations and a grueling trek toward the great plains, Kazhak does tell her of his homeland, the Sea of Grass: ""Is good place. Is best place."" And Epona will soon win respect on the long trek as she empaths a sick horse back to health--in a kind of equine soul-meld. (""Our rituals,"" she patiently explains to a softening Kazhak, ""are things we. . . feel, and we perform them to create symmetry."") But Kazhak, after good sex with Epona, feels not good when he returns to the tribe only to find that the Scythian shamans have complete control over their chief: they obviously intend to topple the power and popularity of Kazhak, the chief's heir. Epona holds the shamans off for a while--by intuiting a storm just in time to mystify and terrify. She also busies herself in camp with tending horses and lecturing to chattel-women of the Scythians about freedom (""I am,"" insists Epona, ""my own person""). But danger approaches: the shamans push forth a plot; and Kernunnas, in the shape of a wolf, has been hounding Kazhak, killing his men--and disturbing Epona, via travel in the spirit world. Epona must escape then; and, after many travails, she's back to the Blue Mountains, now much changed, with horsemen, enemy heads, and expansion plans. Without the historical echoes that helped to put Llywelyn's Lion of Ireland across: a foolish stew of feminism, mysticism, and pidgin dialogue--only for the most undemanding shaman/tribal readership.

Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 1982
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin