THE MOUNTAIN'S CALL
Valeria grew up on tales of the mysterious Mountain where the white, powerful beings in the form of stately white horses, live. She relishes the stories of the legendary Riders, who partner the Stallions in the Dance, a ride that reflects, influences and sometimes creates the past, present and future. Valeria has a kinship with the animal kingdom and strong magic, but only men are called to be Riders—until the day Valeria feels a pull to journey to the mountain. Disguised as a boy, she sets off on the greatest adventure of her life. Only two of the mountain's inhabitants realize the truth: Kerrec, her teacher and senior rider, and Euan, captive barbarian prince. Both men intrigue her, but the Dance is most important—until Valeria discovers she may be the only one who can stop a barbarian plot to overthrow the empire and bring down the mountain.
Brennan clearly knows horses, and the affection and respect come through in her evocative descriptions and Valeria's empathy for the stallions. The classic conflict between love and destiny is delineated sharply and purposefully, in a way that keeps the reader riveted. Animal lovers and romantic fantasy aficionados alike will appreciate this tale, a blend of the classic coming-of-age story and an exhilarating romantic adventure. (Sep., 400 pp., $13.95)
Jen Talley Exum