King of the Wind

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The story of the ancestor of Man O'War.

Sham and the stable boy Agba travel from Morocco to France to England where, at last, Sham's majesty is recognized and he becomes the "Godolphin Arabian," ancestor of the most superior Thoroughbred horses.

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The story of the ancestor of Man O'War.

Sham and the stable boy Agba travel from Morocco to France to England where, at last, Sham's majesty is recognized and he becomes the "Godolphin Arabian," ancestor of the most superior Thoroughbred horses.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
For young readers who love horses, King of the Wind has long been a classic alongside Marguerite Henry's many other beloved horse stories such as Misty of Chincoteague. This one is the tale based on fact, of a swift and spirited Arabian horse sent by the Sultan of Morocco as a gift to Louis XV of France. Unfortunately, Sham (named for the sun), and his young groom Agba are undervalued by the French and end up in England, where they endure some grueling adventures before the Arabian's true value is understood. Readers will find it fascinating that this horse was an ancestor of many famous thoroughbreds, including Man o'War. Children today may find the style a bit ornate and the story rather too heart-rending, but it's still an absorbing tale with a triumphant finish. First published in 1948 and winner of the 1949 Newbery Medal, King of the Wind has been reissued as part of a "Marguerite Henry Library" in a deluxe edition that is essentially the same as the one in print for so long, but with a few useful additions. The original expressive monochrome watercolors by Wesley Dennis are included, and Henry's publisher at Rand McNally has contributed his personal recollections. These features and a "King of the Wind Scrapbook" with photographs and manuscript notes make it a useful addition to a library and an attractive gift for a thoughtful young horse-lover. 2001 (orig. 1948), Simon and Schuster, $21.00. Ages 8 to 12. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780756980979
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/1/2007
  • Pages: 172
  • Sales rank: 344,993
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Read an Excerpt


That same fair summer's day, Sham was lying in his stall at the Red Lion. He no longer needed to be shackled. No one feared him anymore. He was too weak to kick and charge.

For weeks he had lived in a kind of daze, willing to lie on his bed of straw and let the world go on about him. Over the half door of his stall he could hear the rattle of pewter cups in the inn and listen to the comings and goings of horses and journeymen. He caught the mingled smell of dust and sweat when the horses came in. He caught the rain smells and heard the first drops beat out a mournful medley on the roof over his head. He snuffed the winds. But he was no longer a part of the smells and the sounds.

Mister Williams shook his head sadly every time he passed Sham's stall. "That there 'orse, 'e's got a gnawin' pull inside 'im. 'E's missin' that boy."

On this summer's afternoon the sound made by Mistress Williams banging her pots and pans was suddenly muffled by the thunder of hooves and the rumble of wheels.

Lying half-awake, half-asleep, Sham heard the other horses in their stalls neigh a greeting to the newcomers. He heard the high, scrabbling voice of Mistress Williams. Then a silence broken by many footsteps and the low laughter of a gentle woman.

The next thing he knew the door of his stall was thrown open, a feather-light creature was by his side, and a boy's slim brown fingers were stroking his neck.

Sham touched Agba's cheek with his feelers, as if to make sure of him. Then an excited whicker escaped him. He lipped the boy. He swiped his cheek with a great pink tongue. He tasted the warm, salty tears. Thenhe neighed his happiness to the whole wide world.

Thrusting his forefeet in front of him, he struggled to his feet. Lying down was no way to greet friends! He shuddered the straw from his coat as if to apologize for his lack of grooming.

A change came over him. He snorted at the half-circle of people about him, at the handsome gentleman in wine-colored velvet, at the lady in silk and gold lace, at the innkeeper and his wife standing at a respectful distance.

His eyes came back to Agba. "Let us be off!" he seemed to say. "Somewhere. Anywhere!"

The Earl of Godolphin laughed in agreement. Then he exchanged a few quiet words with Mister Williams and the arrangements to buy Sham were quickly made. In no time at all Agba and Grimalkin were mounted on Sham, while a gathering of all the chance droppers-in at the Red Lion gawped curiously at the coach-and-six, and at the hooded boy and the tiger cat who sat a well-mannered bay horse.

Mister Williams' eyebrows were traveling up and down at a great rate. "Split my windpipe!" he said to a journeyman who had once been tossed off by Sham, "it hain't the same beast, I tell ye! 'E hain't stubborn nor vicious at all. 'E and the boy are all of one color, and all of one mind. They can't wait to go! D'you know," he exclaimed, slapping the man on the back, "that 'orse-'e's got brains!"

The Earl leaned his head out of the coach window. "We will lead the way up to Gog Magog," he called to Agba. "Our pace will be slow to accommodate the weakened condition of your mount." And he smiled a little smile of encouragement.

If the road to the hills of Gog Magog had been the road to the garden of heaven, the three silent creatures could not have been happier. It seemed as if the green meadows and the woodlands and clear streams had been created for them alone. The sun warmed their backs. The wind blew for their pleasure. They sucked it deep into their lungs. It washed them free.

Agba was almost sorry when the driver of the coach pulled to a stop before a gate surmounted by the crest of a dolphin. He wished the ride could go on forever.

The Duchess, however, seemed glad the journey was over.

"I declare, my lad," she sighed, leaning her head wearily against the gilded frame of the coach window, " you and your mount and your kitling appear fresher than when you started."

Now the gate was opened by two men in livery, and the coach-and-six led the way over a bridge and up a gentle hill between yews and hawthorn trees to the stables of the Earl of Godolphin.

Agba could not believe his eyes. It was the stable, not the house, that crowned the hill, and there was a stream encircling the hill where mares and their foals were drinking. He jumped to his bare feet. The turf was soft and springy. The green grass tickled up between his toes. He touched Sham's white spot with his toe. The white spot! The white spot! Here, at last, Sham could fulfill the promise it held.

Grimalkin, who had settled into the saddle in great dignity, now cuffed Agba with his paw, as much as to say, " Mind your manners, the Earl is headed this way."

Agba stood at attention, but he could not keep his shining eyes from gathering in the whole scene: the long range of box stalls opened to the south sun, the shady paddock, the park for a training ground. Why, there were no walls anywhere! Only green hedges afar off, where the meadows came to an end. And rows of elm trees brushing the clouds. And willows trailing their fingers in the stream.

An exercise boy came into the yard with a string of running horses. Their haunches gleamed in the sun.

Agba drew a quick breath. Soon Sham's coat would be sleek and shining, too. Soon Sham would be the wind beneath the sun. Soon he would be showing his gratitude to the Earl — winning races, bringing honor to Gog Magog.

Agba's thoughts were cut short. A spidery man with a waggish air about him was presenting himself to the Earl of Godolphin.

"A very g-g-good morning, your lordship," he stuttered. And as he bowed he took an appraising look at the underfed horse, the strangely dressed boy, and the tiger cat sitting the horse with a superior grin.

The Earl of Godolphin followed his glance.

"Twickerham," he said, " I have brought you a new horse-boy, and this is his little bay stallion. Ill luck has dogged their footsteps. They have traveled a hard road and a long one. From henceforward they will be in your charge."

For only an instant a cloud darkened the groom's face. "Very g-good, your lordship," he said.

The Earl dismissed the coach and turned to Agba. "I once read a novel laid in Morocco," he said. "The characters had curious names, curious to me, of course. There was El Hayanie and Hamed 0 Bryhim and one was Agba. Since I have to call you by some name I shall choose the shortest one: Agba. I desire you to give me your opinion of this name by the strength of your handclasp."

With his head groom standing by in open-mouthed amazement, the Earl of Godolphin, son of the Lord Treasurer of England, held out his hand to Agba. The small brown hand and the long-fingered white one met, and there was such a wringing clasp between them that the Earl's face broke into a great smile. Agba smiled, too. If only the Earl knew! He had chosen the name that was already the boy's own.

"Agba," he said, "you will be in the care of my head groom, Mister Titus Twickerham. He is breeder and trainer for the Gog Magog stables. I hope and pray that you will be happy."

Agba bowed first to the Earl and then to the groom, blinking hard to keep away the tears of happiness.

The Earl of Godolphin now cleared his throat and fingered his neck cloth a trifle uneasily. "Twickerham," he hesitated, "what think you of the merits of the stallion?"

The groom searched the Earl's face, trying to read his feelings there. Seeing only an open countenance, he rocked back and forth on his heels in importance. Then he approached Sham's head. Instantly Sham nosed the sky. Mister Twickerham reached for the bridle. He tried to force Sham's head down, but it was only with Agba's help that he could look into the horse's mouth. He tried to lift a hoof, but Sham's legs were pillars driven into the earth. Yet with only a feather touch, Agba lifted a foot as easily as if it were Grimalkin's paw.

Red of face, Titus Twickerham stepped back. He measured the horse with his eyes. From withers to hoof. From withers to tail. Again and again he measured. He noted the scars on the horse's knees. Then he pursed his lips.

"Your I-lordship," he began, "this-here beast would be the laughing stock at the race-c-c-course. He's not lusty enough to endure the distances. With the b-best care in the kingdom he'd still be a broken-kneed cob. And!" here Mister Twickerham pointed a thin forefinger, while his face gave out the faintest suggestion of a sneer, "If your lordship will k-kindly note the height of the crest, he will see 'tis almost a deformity.

"To my mind," he concluded, enjoying the importance of the moment, "this ain't a running horse, and d-d-don't let nobody tell your lordship that he'd make a good sire, either. Colts with him for a father would be violent tempered and weedy as c-c-cattails."

The Earl of Godolphin did not change expression. For long seconds he stood perfectly still. "If this be true," he said at last, "feed him until he loses his gaunt look. Then we'll see what's to be done with him. Perhaps he can work the machine that pumps water into the fish pond."

Agba looked at the Earl aghast. Was Sham, the pride of the Sultan's royal stables, never to have a chance to prove himself? Was he always to be a work horse?

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First Chapter

Text copyright © 1948, copyright renewed © 1976 by Marguerite Henry
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 20 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 20 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 6, 2014

    Awesome....!Beautiful....!Wonderful....!I really enjoy it.....!

    Awesome....!Beautiful....!Wonderful....!I really enjoy it.....!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2007

    Endearing Read

    This is one of the best horse books I've read. It has good images and the writing style is simple and playful at the same time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2005

    A great story for horse lovers

    King of the Wind was a wonderful novel, one of the best horse books I have ever read. Not only am I a horse lover I am also an Arab, so I understood a lot of what it meant. I loved this story and I would recommend it to anyone!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2004

    Great book

    I'm only on page 55, but what I've read so far is really good; very well written. I like horses, and I don't know a lot about them, but I really like this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2004

    A lovable story about a boy and his wonderful horse!!!

    A horse is born in the royal stable of Morocco, Africa and mute boy is put in charge of the colt. Together they travel to France, make friends and foes,be put in jail, and find a good home. The horse then becomes a race horse.This book is animal fiction and is very good.The author is Marguerite Henry. I like this book because I love animals and because it is a touching story, filled with excitement. There are races with big prizes at stake, a royal stable and many more things. This is a great story about a horse and a boy. Filled with excitement,sadness,joy,and love. This book is for readers around the ages nine to one hundred. This is a great story so read this book!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2004

    || .from a smaller view. ||

    When a son of the desert is shipped to France as a present of the Sultan who knew how bad his life with get. Sham(sun) a fierey bay arabian bears the wheat ear and a white spot, misfortune and fleetness. When the stallion is harshly abused, could the fire within still burn for his small mute horse boy(Agba). M. Henry's books are like no horse books. She has a way of taking you away, and pulling you into her books. I have no words against her books, they are magicle. A great choise of adventure, history, and passion for something other than the human race. Good for readers of all ages.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2003


    One of the best tales ever told!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2003

    Hi Everyone! I'm only...

    I'm only 12 and I have just finished reading this FABULOUS book! It catches your attention unlike any other book i've read. I admit I have a severe (well to me it's severe!) problem with motavation. Personally, I dislike any book that I'm FORCED to read a.k.a. for school. But this one was wasn't boring and I didn't skim through it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2003

    An outstanding achievment in writting!!

    This book has been one of mine and many others favorite book. Recommended for horse lovers. This story follows the journey of a mute stable boy named Agba and the colt Sham.Throughout the story Agba and Sham are blessed by the kindness of people and the harshness of life, but at the end of the story Sham becomes 'King Of The Wind'. This story is truly remarkable; it follows the life of a horse and his boy from Shams birth to his mournful death. Truly a great piece of literature.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2003

    King of the Wind

    I give King of the Wind, by Marguerite Henry five stars because it was an outstanding book. The book begins in Morroco with Agba, the horseboy, and Sham, the colt. They are sent to France with five other horseboys and their colts as a gift to the young king. They are sent away because they are not in the best condition from the harsh trip, and end up living on the streets. After awhile a kind English gentleman takes them to his home in the English countryside. There Sham and Agba grow stronger. When they upset the gentleman's son-in-law they are once again sent away. After having some unpleasent adventures they end up in the stables of Gog Magog. There they are under the care of the Earl of Godolphin. When a horse named Roxanna comes to see the Earl's finest horse, Hobgoblin, Sham and Roxanna fall in love instead. Agba and Sham then get sent away to Wicken Fen, the bog-type land that is disliked by many. When Roxanna has a colt that looks exactly like Sham they are called back. Sham is called King of the Wind by Agba because of the speed that he and his colt posses. This was a great book!! Other books that you may want to read are Misty of Chincoteague and Stormy: Misty's Foal.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2002


    This book kept me interested the whole time. I reccomend it for readers, ages 9-15.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2002

    Its a really touching story

    Its a really touching story. Its about how a young boy, who is a mute devotes his life to a horse. I recommend it to everyone!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2002

    King of the Wind forever a classic.

    King of the Winds now and forever will be a classic. It was simple enough for a ten year old boy to read and meaningful enough for any adult. Horse lover or not you really should read this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2001

    Lifelong memory of a favorite story

    I read and reread this book when I was a child. I was always reading, particularly animal books, but this one always held a special place. Twenty years later, I still remember this tale with wistful fondness, and pass it along to young readers at every opportunity. For those who live in other worlds through books, this is a classic!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2001

    Wonderful Book...

    I usually never find a book that I love, espesialy about horses. This book, however, cought my attention and held it. If you love horses I really suggest this! After I read it I actually went online and researched the Godolphin Arabian more thouroughly.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2001

    Amazing Book

    This book is really good. You can't put it down! Agba rocks!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2001

    I loved this book!!!

    I loved this book! I would recommend this book to anyone who likes horses or just thinks that they are the best animal in the world!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2001


    I remember reading this book as a very young child in elementary school. It immediatley became my favorite book, and still is. At the time we owned and arabian horse named Midnight, and I can remember fondly riding him and pretending that he was the Godolphin Arabian. I did so many book reports on this book, my teachers had to force me to read another title. It is a wonderful and beautiful story, bound to be anyone's favorite.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 6, 2000

    King of the Wind

    King of the Wind is a good book. Agba, a horse boy in Africa, gets a foal, which takes him to England by the Sultan's order. This story is exciting because Agba's foal makes it all the way to run the New Market race. The book gets smoother as you read. It's amazing because the horse 'Sham' has a lot of foals. Unbelievably Sham's foals are in the New Market race. I highly recommend King of the Wind for people who love horses.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2000

    A Wonderfull Book

    I think this is one of the best books ever written. I think that everyone should read this book. I read nearly every week.

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