The Black Stallion Series, Walter Farley
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The Black Stallion
Sure, there are times when you can tell Farley was young when he wrote this. There are places where a lot of repetition happens, but there's a reason this book was turned into a movie and translated into so many languages and has a huge following and a charity based off of it that helps get kids to read. Admit it, when someone says "horse adventure" this one of the first stories that comes to mind.
The Black Stallion Returns
So we all know Abu Ja' Kub ben Ishak full name, it was repeated numerous times, but that's going to be about your only complaint with this book... Unless you're all anti Muslim and expect all books to treat that culture in a horrible way, because if that's what you're looking for you won't find it here. Farley treats the desert culture VERY well and clearly respects the peoples of the desert. So maybe this book, set back a in time when it takes DAYS to get from New York to Arabia by plane, might just open some eyes. It's fabulous storytelling here and the book is FAR better than the movie, which really destroyed what Farley had created in some ways.
The Black Stallion and Satan
Farley writes action as if he were shouting it into a tape recorder while he was going through the experience himself. And I don't mean that in a bad way! Everything is so real, even for adults who are reliving the series for the first time, that it is hard to believe that someone could capture what was happening just by sitting at a table and jotting it down. You don't have to be on an island to have a true adventure, you just need the Black and Walter Farley at your side!
The Black Stallion Revolts
Adventure stories are just that: adventure. They are stories that take you out into the jungle, deep into the desert, or out into the wild unknown. Adventure stories aren't based on reality, they are designed to pick you up onto their shoulders and race off with you into uncharted territory, make you feel the wind in your hair and the excitement in your heart, all without making you leave your chair. This is what Farley does so well. You pick up a book about the Black Stallion because you want to know what kind of trouble he and Alec are going to get out of this time or you want to live through another race of the century from a time when racing was the sport of the century. It doesn't matter that everything works out perfectly in the end, that's the beauty of the era the books came from. And in all honesty, does anyone ever feel this good about picking the one that came in second place? I think not.
That's the whole review right there... I couldn't cut anything down. :)
The Black Stallion's Courage
You really can't go wrong with Walter Farley when it comes to writing races and adventures dealing with racing. I can't say that enough, at least while he is at his top form, like he is in this book. I reread this series every year because I just can't have enough of each story. The races make you feel like you are there and Farley doesn't slack off by telling every race in exactly the same way. One of the books that is a must have for a reader's racing collection.
The Black Stallion Mystery
There are some who complain that this is predictable, that it isn't the same quality of the other books. It may be predictable when you have read it over and over, it may be predictable when you are an adult or older youth, able to guess what's happening using the powers of deduction. It's the suspense that always kept me going when I was reading it. You know what Alec is going to discover, but you want to SEE it.
The Black Stallion and Flame
Not your typical Black Stallion book, this is the Black gone wild on his own. There is some focus here on how the Black thinks, how Flame thinks... And a lot of battle with a vampire bat. Farley manages some suspense too. Is Alec going to find the Black before he has to leave? Yes, it's more of being stranded on an island, yes this one is really very predictable, but I still enjoyed it as a part of the series.
The Black Stallion Challenged
Back to the racetrack again and HOW! I've said it before and I will say it every time someone gets me talking about it, Walter Farley is simply amazing at writing about the races. He has some magical way of putting you right in the middle of the action, clinging to the neck of a horse, riding along with the wind in your hair. This book even puts you on the back side of the track, where things happen away from the race itself. You get to see a lot in this book, and it's all enjoyable.
The Black Stallion's Ghost
While we are being honest, it is time to admit that this is where Farley hits the wall. From here on out the books stop being as adventurous and race-perfect and start being a little flighty or wordy. Sometimes this one becomes hard to handle, when your'e used to all of the other books about the Black. No racing here, just the supernatural and a LOT of talking in a swamp. It might be a fun book for some readers around Halloween. Younger readers might get a little enjoyable spook, but there isn't much adventure, and there's a lot of repetition.