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King of the Wind

King of the Wind

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King of the Wind

4.5/5 (29 оценки)
173 pages
2 hours
Dec 11, 2012


He was named “Sham” for the sun, this golden-red stallion born in the Sultan of Morocco’s stone stables. Upon his heel was a small white spot, the symbol of speed. But on his chest was the symbol of misfortune. Although he was swift as the desert winds, Sham’s pedigree would be scorned all his life by cruel masters and owners.

This is the classic story of Sham and his friend, the stable boy Agba. Their adventures take them from the sands of the Sahara to the royal courts of France, and finally to the green pastures and stately homes of England. For Sham was the renowned Godolphin Arabian, whose blood flows through the veins of almost every superior thoroughbred. Sham’s speed—like his story—has become legendary.
Dec 11, 2012

Об авторе

Marguerite Henry was the beloved author of such classic horse stories as King of the Wind; Misty of Chincoteague; and Stormy, Misty’s Foal, all of which are available in Aladdin paperback editions.

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  • There came a time when none of the boys would challenge Agba’s horse any more, for constant defeat took the heart out of their mounts.

  • Sham, however, seemed not to mind. He turned tail and larked across the paddock all by himself. He was busy learning about the world.

  • He was trying to run away from trouble, but it hugged him like his own shadow.

  • The Sultan was a fierce and bloodthirsty ruler.

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King of the Wind - Marguerite Henry


1. The Fast of Ramadan

IN THE northwestern slice of Africa known as Morocco, a horseboy stood, with broom in hand, in the vast courtyard of the royal stables of the Sultan. He was waiting for dusk to fall.

All day long he had eaten nothing. He had not even tasted the jujubes tucked in his turban nor the enormous purple grapes that spilled over the palace wall into the stable yard. He had tried not to sniff the rich, warm fragrance of ripening pomegranates. For this was the sacred month of Ramadan when, day after day, all faithful Mohammedans neither eat nor drink from the dawn before sunrise until the moment after sunset.

The boy Agba had not minded the fast for himself. It was part of his religion. But when Signor Achmet, Chief of the Grooms, commanded that the horses, too, observe the fast, Agba’s dark eyes smouldered with anger.

It is the order of the Sultan! the Signor had announced to the horseboys. And he had cuffed Agba on the head when the boy showed his disapproval.

Of the twelve thousand horses in the Sultan’s stables, Agba had charge of ten. He fed and watered them and polished their coats and cleaned their stalls. Best of all, he wheeled the whole string into the courtyard at one time for their exercise.


There was one of the ten horses to whom Agba had lost his heart. She was a bay mare, as fleet as a gazelle, with eyes that studied him in whatever he did. The other nine horses he would lead out to the common water trough to drink. But for his bright bay he would fill a water cask from a pure spring beyond the palace gates. Then he would hold it while the mare sucked the water, her eyelashes brushing his fingers as she drank. For long moments after she had drunk her fill, she would gaze at him while the cool water dribbled from her muzzle onto his hands.

It was the mare that worried Agba now as he worked to fill in the time until the hour of sunset. The courtyard was already swept clean but Agba pushed his palm-leaf broom as if he were sweeping all his thoughts into a little mound for the wind to carry away.

At last he hung his broom on an iron hook, alongside an endless row of brooms, and went to the mare. Her stall door was closed so that the fragrance of late clover would not drift in to prick her appetite. He found her asleep, lying on her side, her great belly distended by the little colt soon to be born. Agba noticed, with a heavy feeling in his chest, that the fast was telling on the mare. He could read it in the sunken places above each eye, in the harshness of her coat.

But soon the fast would be over. It was the last day of the month, and even now the sun was sinking below the gray-green olive trees that fringed the courtyard.

There was no sound anywhere, not from the palace walls beyond, nor from the quarters over the stables where the horseboys lived. The whole world seemed to be holding its breath, waiting for dusk to fall. Small voices of insects and birds were beginning to pierce the quiet. Twilight toads piping on their bassoons. Crickets chirping. Wood doves cooing. And afar off in the Atlas Mountains a hyena began to laugh. These were forerunners of the darkness. It would be only a short time now.

Agba turned toward the east, his eyes on the minaret of the mosque. It was a sharp needle pricking the blood-red reflection of the sun. He gazed fixedly at it until his eyes smarted. At last a figure in white robes emerged from the tower. It was the public crier. He was sounding his trumpet. He was crying four times to the four winds of heaven. The fast of Ramadan was at an end!


The air went wild with noise. Twelve thousand horses recognized the summons and neighed their hunger. The royal stables seethed like an ant hill. Horseboys swarmed out of the corridors and into the courtyard. From the hoods of their cloaks, from waistbands and vests, they took dates and raisins and almonds and popped them noisily into their mouths. They stripped the grapes from their vines. They ate with boisterous abandon. Some plunged their faces into the troughs and sucked the water as if they were horses.

Agba did not join the other horseboys. He returned to the mare. Moving slowly so as not to frighten her, he reached under the saddle hung on the wall and found the water vessel he had filled and hidden there an hour ago. He poured the water into a basin and waited for the mare to awaken.

As if she had heard in her dreams the sound made by the water, she woke with a jerk and struggled to her feet. She came to Agba and drank. Then she raised her head, letting the water slobber from her lips.

Agba waited motionless, knowing she would want more and more. Her deep brown eyes studied him as if to say, You are the source of all that is good.

A great happiness welled up inside Agba. He nodded, seeming to understand her thoughts, then waited while she drank again and again.

When Agba came out of the mare’s stall, the other boys were beginning to lead their horses to the common trough to drink. He must hurry now if he hoped to get his corn ration first. He picked up a bag made of hemp and ran through a maze of corridors and down a steep staircase to the underground granary. At the entrance stood Signor Achmet, Chief of the Grooms. Signor Achmet was dark and bearded. In his right hand he carried a knotted stick, and from the sash at his waist hung a hundred keys. When he saw Agba, he gripped the boy’s shoulder with fingers as strong as the claws of an eagle.

Why do you not eat with the other slaveboys? he asked in his cracked voice. Then with a sharp look he released Agba and began peeling an orange with his fingernails. His beady eyes did not leave Agba’s face as he ate the orange, making loud sucking noises to show how juicy and good it was.

Agba gulped. He studied his brown toes.

Is it the mare?

The boy’s eyes flew to the Signor’s.

Is tonight her hour?

Slowly, gravely, Agba nodded.

Tonight, then, the Signor said, as he wiped his mouth on his mantle and began fumbling for the key to the granary, tonight you will not go to your quarters to sleep. You will move the mare into the brood-mare stable. You will remain on watch and call me when she is ready to foal. The all-seeing eye of Allah will be upon you.

Agba’s heart fluttered like bird wings. The Chief of the Grooms was letting him stay with his mare! He forgot all the cuffs and sharp words. He bowed low, impatient to hear the sound of the key turning the great lock, impatient for the creaking of the door and the mingled odors of corn and barley.

The key scraped. The door creaked open. The warm, mellow smells leaked out.

Signor Achmet stood aside. Agba slipped past him into the darkness. Quickly his sensitive fingers sought the good, sound ears of corn. He filled his bag with them. Then he turned and fled up the stairs.


2. The Brood-Mare Stable

BUT THE mare would not eat the corn Agba brought. She only lipped it, then closed her eyes with a great weariness.

Agba was troubled as he watered and fed the other horses in his aisle, as he ate his own meal of barley and goat’s milk, as he hurried to the brood-mare stable.

Signor Achmet must have been there before him. One of the stalls was wide open, and a lanthorn hung on a peg, sending out a feeble light. The stall had not been used since spring and had a fusty smell. Agba leaped upon the manger and threw open a tiny round window. It showed a patch of sky and the new moon.

This is a favorable sign, he thought. A new moon. A new month. The foal will be strong and swift. He took a deep breath of the cool summer night. Then quickly he went to work, filling bucket after bucket of sand from the huge sand pile behind the stables. Back and forth he ran, dumping the sand on the floor of the stall. Next he covered it with straw, spreading it out first with his hands, then trotting over it, galloping over it, around and around. At last he surveyed his work with approval. It would be a good bed for the mare!

Just as he was filling the manger with fodder, Signor Achmet, in flowing white robes, looked in. He tested the depth of the sand with a bony forefinger. He felt the straw.

You waste the sand and the straw, he said with a black look. Half would do. But the Signor understood Agba’s concern for the mare. Fetch her now, he commanded.

Agba’s bow was lost in the darkness.

"And you will summon me when she grows

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  • (2/5)
     A children's book from the 40s.
    Tells the tale of the arrival of the first Arabian horse into the UK and the founding of the breed of horses that race to this day.
    While I am prepared to accept that it may have elements of truth, it far too neatly falls into the realms of fairy tale story for me to accept that it is in any way a faithful representation of the story. Agba is a mute horseboy in the court of the Sultan. He has a favourite colt, a bay the colour of the sun, who he calls Sham. This horse is marked with a white spot of speed on his heel. Agba, Sham and 5 other pairs of boys & horses are selected as a great gift to the French King. Only they don't arrive in good condition, the horses being underfed and looking good for nothing but the knacker's yard on arrival. It then goes from bad to worse in France before he's rescued and brought to England. it doesn't go smoothly there either, still being put to work pulling carts, and as a mount at a stable rather the the racer Sham was destined to be. Sham never does win a race, but his offspring do, and he lives out his life in a pampered state. Agba is less lucky. The Sultan said that the horseboys were to stay with their horses until the horse died, and at that point the mute boy returns to Morocco.
    I found it a pleasant enough read, but was left with far too many unanswered questions. Agba seems never to communicate with anyone but the horse, so how come he managed to stay with it all the way through? How can this be a true story, if he can't communicate - how can he tell what he & the horse endured? It just didn't hold true to me. Having said that, it's a children's book. I never went through a horsey stage, but I imagine it would entrance any 8 year old who did.
  • (5/5)
    One of my favourite books of all time. A true classic, and a must-read for anyone who loves horses.
  • (5/5)
    It seems like all the "classic" books about horses follow the same mold; the horse is born, grows up, learns how to handle humans, goes through a casting out period where they are treated horribly and become separated from the people they love, then somewhere toward the end they find their family or human again and all is restored in the world. This book fits right in with that category, so why do we all love it so deeply?The story of Sham is the story of hope, of struggle through hardship and the return to grace. It is also the story of the strength in friendship. But more than all of this, it is the story of a great horse who was made great not by his deeds, but by the deeds of his children. King of the Wind captures the essence of Sham's greatness, showing it to the readers in a way that his actions were never allowed to do, all while describing the experiences in the most beautiful and heart-touching detail. Horse lovers and fans of racing will find that this book is so all-encompassing that they simply can not put it down, because after a while you realize you don't see the words on the page, you see the image of the experience in your mind.Easy to see why this was a Newbery winner and is still a must read.
  • (5/5)
    My absolute favorite of Henry's stories. I was bewitched from the first pages, learning about such exotic things as Ramadan and Sultans and politics. Not just horse stories, but so much more! And the illustrations by Wesley Dennis were always gorgeous - if you're new to Henry's books Please! make sure the edition you're reading includes his art-work!
  • (4/5)
    Part of the appeal of this story is the overwhelming odds that Agba and Sham overcome before someone recognizes the worth of Sham. I especially liked the love Agba had for Sham and how he stuck with Sham despite the difficulties of being mute and a foreigner. The illustrations (by Dennis Wesley) are quite detailed and beautiful.
  • (4/5)
    A horse story? I groaned when I picked up this book. I've been trying to read the books assigned to my daughter, and this was next on the list. I've usually found animal stories to be boring and I've never found horses to be all that interesting. But I dutifully picked it up and gave it a read. "King of the Wind" is the story of the Godolphin Arabian, a horse from the 18th Century that is supposedly the great-grand-pappy of all the great racing horses. While I couldn't really get into the horse aspect of the story, it is a well written and interesting story. A sort of rags-to-riches tale. It's a Newberry medal winner and even I have to admit it's worth checking out. --J.
  • (5/5)
    This was my favorite book as a child - I received it for Christmas or my birthday in about 1955. I read it again and again as I grew. Then I read it to my children, and while they were somewhat underwhelmed, my daughter later gave me the deluxe edition in 2001 and my son found the original among his books and gave it back to me. I have since read it several times and it never fails to move me. Not only is this a compelling tale of the origins of one of the great race horse breeds, but it is a fascinating history of cultures of the Islamic Middle East, France and England. It was my first introduction to the culture of Arabia and the practices of Islam. Very enlightening for a little American girl.
  • (5/5)
    This was one of my favorite books when I was a kid - one of the few that I read over and over again. I would study the illustrations (Dennis) and try to copy them. It was one of the few books that I actually owned as a child which, perhaps, explained why it was so special. I still own that original scholastic paperback copy. The story is beautiful, full of adventure and I especially remember that Henry's descriptions of the colours of the horses were magical.
  • (5/5)
    Only the Black Stallion can eclipse this "based on a true story" tale of the Godolphin Arabian. A wonderful novel as much the story of a horse as of his loyal stable boy. An exciting adventure tale more than worthy of its Newbury Medal!
  • (4/5)
    In this Contemporary Realistic Fiction book, a young Moroccan stable boy accompanies one of the Sultan’s prize horses to France. When the boy and horse arrive at France to be presented to the King, they are turned away and sent to a traveler’s inn. Through many harsh circumstances, the boy and horse eventually end up at a Duke’s stable. The Duke at first does not like the horse, but once the horse sires a foal, he welcomes the horse and boy back to his stables. The horse is as fast as the wind but is never given the chance to prove himself. However, his sons are found to be the fastest race horses the English countries have ever seen. In the end, the Moroccan horse is claimed King of the Wind and fathers the new blood line of the English racehorse, the thoroughbred.I just read this story after many years of it sitting on my bookshelf. I love reading stories about animals, especially dogs and horses, but this one was a little depressing. The boy and the horse are mistreated all throughout this book until the very end of it. It was interesting to find out the story behind the Godolphin Arabian horse through this book’s information. I would recommend this book to someone who liked to read about royalty, horses and horse races. A neat idea to use with this book would to be to incorporate it in a science unit in a secondary agriculture class. I would have the students research the beginnings of the thoroughbred horse and see if it really does trace back to the Moroccan beliefs. Another interesting point this book uses are the superstitions that surround horses regarding their birthmarks. I would also have the students research horse folklore and learn about some of the mysteries that surround horses.
  • (5/5)
    When I was a preteen, I read several books by Marguerite Henry, but not King of the Wind. I probably didn't want to read it because the main human character is a boy. But now I have read it, and in my estimation it is a beautifully-written and illustrated story about the deep bond between a mute, parentless stable boy and an extraordinary stallion. The two, along with their cat companion Grimalkin, experience many hardships that would have defeated weaker souls, but they triumph in the end. That the ending is ultimately happy may seem a little predictable (this is a children's book after all), but it is uplifting all the same.
  • (5/5)
    childhood favorite re-visited.

    Is the story as good as I remember? – Yes

    What ages would I recommend it too? – All ages. Children will enjoy the single storyline; while adults enjoy an easy afternoon read (especially while waiting on a bus, show, doctor, or other appointments).

    Length? – Reasonable for an afternoon.

    Characters? – Memorable, several characters.

    Setting? – Real world, Historical times.

    Written approximately? – 1948.

    Does the story leave questions in the readers mind? – Yes! The reader really begins to feel for the character. How was he received when he returned home?

    Any issues the author (or a more recent publisher) should cover? None.
  • (3/5)
    This is the story of the founding father of racehorses, Sham, “King of the Wind,” and his friend, the stable boy, Agba. The story begins in Morocco where the sultan sends Sham and Agba off to France as a gift for the king. But the French laugh at the little horse and Sham is sent off to a series of owners, here and there, loved and hated, until he finally ends up in England. It is only in England when the true nature of Sham’s racing abilities are realized through his offspring, three horses who win for their owner prize after prize.
  • (5/5)
    I like, not love horses; but I'm a sucker for a good animal story; and this one, based on history with some liberty in the telling, is outstanding. I loved the book as a kid, and it's still a great read in my 50's. The detail of the backgrounds, from Morocco to the streets of Paris and the marshes in England, the riches-to-rags-to-riches story of the fiery Arabian Sham and the mute boy, Agba, who loved him; make this book a wonderful reading experience.