I’m not usually a huge fan of animal stories but King of the Wind is one of my childhood favorites. As with many of the books I devoured as a little girl, I listened to this on tape before I ever picked up a hard copy. I read it once or twice after that and thoroughly enjoyed it every time! A couple months ago, I bought this beautiful red hardcover copy at a used book store since I no longer had my old paperback copy. When I decided to participate in the Children’s Classics Event this month, I knew this book had to be on my list :).
SPOILER ALERT: If you have not yet read this book and plan to in the future, do NOT read further!! You have been warned
King of the Wind is a story of Agba, a horseboy in the stables of Moroccan Sultan, Mulai Ismael, and Sham, his beloved bay stallion. I suppose, since the title is King of the Wind, it would be more correct to say the story is one about a bay stallion named Sham and his devoted horseboy Agba. It could go either way, so deep is their friendship, so strong is their reliance upon each other, so intertwined are their lives. It really is a sweet story of keeping promises, staying true to one’s duty, and becoming who you were born to be.
As I was reading, I was constantly amused at the fact that I kept hearing the story narrated in the voice from the audiobook I listened to so many years ago! It’s funny the things your brain recollects! The language Henry uses is absolutely delightful!
“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.”
My favorite bit is her description of the Sultan. Upon hearing that he is to go before Sultan Mulai Ismael, Agba is terrified that his life will come to an abrupt and untimely end. His fears lessen considerably when he sees the great man himself.
“The Sultan held the boy transfixed. He wore a towering white turban and a dazzling white robe with a golden sash. But what struck Agba was that in spite of the fine mantle and a beard whiter than driven snow, the old man reminded him of a camel. His eyes were hidden by heavy folds of eyelids, like a camel’s, and his lips were thick and slit in two, and there was a big hump on his back. Even his feet were like those of a camel, spongy and broad and shapeless…
Agba would not have been surprised in the least to see him rise up and swing along through the garden, stopping to feed on the leaves of the orange trees and the jasmine bushes….
…Agba wanted to laugh out, for even the Sultan’s voice was high and shrill, like a camel that objects to being mounted.”
I don’t know why but that has always tickled me! Perhaps it was the way the narrator on the audiobook read it, I don’t know!
In any case, the misadventures that Agba and Sham continually face in their travels are, at times, heartbreaking but in the end make their success that much sweeter. I sometimes wonder how the story would have gone if Agba could speak but it’s foolish to consider because that’s a huge part of why the story is so poignant. Here’s a boy who, handicapped though he may be, will fulfill his promise to Sham and carry out the Sultan’s orders, come what may.
It made me think of how much I want to use my weaknesses as a crutch and excuse as to why I can’t do what know I was meant to do. It’s stupid. It’s stupid to give room to negativity. When you know you’ve got a job to complete, a mission to accomplish, a dream to fulfill, a promise to keep, you don’t listen to the naysayers, you fight for success. You pray that you don’t miss opportunities and open doors. You wait patiently for your next big chance. You learn from your mistakes and pick yourself up when you fall flat on your face. It’s one of the great things about life. You try again and again and again until you get it right. And you will get it right.
I got all that from a story about a horse and his boy? Yes.
That’s why I love the simplicity of childhood. If you let it, it’ll continue to speak to your adult heart <3.
Y’all have a blessed day!