King of the Wind

King of the Wind

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by Marguerite Henry

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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.

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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.

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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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?

Meet the Author

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.
Wesley Dennis was best known for his illustrations in collaboration with author Marguerite Henry. They published sixteen books together.

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King of the Wind: The Story of the Godolphin Arabian 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
MarineWifeSC More than 1 year ago
This book was by far my favorite as a child. I did a book report on King Of The Wind 3 years in a row in elementary school. The story is full of suspense and adventure for a young reader. As a child I feel in love with this story and the adventures of Sham and Agba. It's obvious why this book was a NewBerry Book award winner
Labradorlover0SM More than 1 year ago
Sham is a brave,beautiful,courages horse.I love Margiuerite Henry.Read KING OF THE WIND.
Maitrakh More than 1 year ago
King of the Wind is one of my all time favorite books. I loved it when I was 10 and I still love it now. I loved the adventures Agba and Sham went through. This is a wonderful book for the classroom or just for pleasure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"King of the Wind" is about the story of the Godolphin Arabian. The Godolphin arabian is a horse that was born at the start of the book. A mute horseboy named Agba helped do the delivery (actually he kind of slept through it, but thats not important). He names the foal "Sham". Then the King of France orders six of the best horses in the kingdom to be sent to his domain. Sham is one of them! But when they get there Sham is treated like an outcast, when Agba knows that he is The King of the Wind. Then the Earl of Godolphin finds them and names Sham the Godolphin Arabian. King of the wind is probably one of the most boring books I have ever read. it starts out okay, but then gets worse and worse from there. And I don't like the fact that the main character is a mute. It's like "so and so" he thought. Its too confusing. Anyway I do not recommend this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love this book. I have read it every year. It just keeps getting better and better. I love horses and it is one of those books that make you want to strive for your dreams and goals. I would defenitly recommened
Guest More than 1 year ago
There was boy named Agba who took care of horses. He is also known as a Horseboy. The one horse he took care of began to get pregnant. Agba took the horse to a special place where the colt could be born. The colt was born, and Agba named it Sham. He named the colt Sham because his coat was gold. Sham means "light of sun". Agba and Sham traveled everywhere. They visited the Earl of Goldolphin and GogMogog. People started not to like them, so they told them to go to certain places. At the end Sham met another horse named Roxanna. Roxanna got pregnant and had three sons. The three sons went to races and won every time. Sham lived to be 27. He did the King of the Wind. After Sham died Agba went back to Morroco to take care of other horses.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book! Great for aldults and children!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story takes place in Morocco on a small race track for the finest racehorses out there. The track was home to the man ‘o war the best racehorse of his time. Agba is a young orphan that is left out of a lot is about to have his life changed forever. One day Agba is summoned as a horse boy and is assigned to a purebred racehorse named Sham. Sham and Agba are on their way to France for Shams race. When they get there Agba loses track of Sham. Agba starts looking for Sham and eventually finds him and Shams real owner. Shams owner is a very cruel person who doesn’t care about anybody else but himself and he enslaves Agba and sends him to England to work for him because he can. This book was very slow. It was interesting at the beginning and started to slow down from there. Eventually this book got very boring and I didn’t want to read it. If there was more going on in this book I would have had a stronger interest but no. I suggest you don’t get this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You need to get this book!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is my ALL TIME FAV and i hav read no joke about a thousand books READ IT READ IT READ IT!!!!!!! :)
stellajonesMS More than 1 year ago
My favorite book as a child! I have the hardback and it is also my daughters favorite book! I am so excited it is now available on the nook!
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deaudonnee More than 1 year ago
I first heard this story when I was in elementary school a long long time ago and loved it. Our teacher would read us a chapter a day. I had all but forgotten about it until I was in B&N one afternoon and decided to see if it was in stock as I wanted my middle granddaughter to have a copy since she loves horses. My mother ended up being the one who read it and pronounced it wonderful. I am sure that any kid from elementary to middle school would love this book and its exciting story. Furthermore, if I am remembering correctly, it will also give an insight into another culture.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read this book at least 20 times, and I will read it twenty more!! Out of my thousands of favortie books, this one stands out. I love it.
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HurricaneClan's Nursery &#9788
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have the REAL COPY?Haha good-bye odios what iimeant ahla
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hands down, the best book I've ever read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book 25 years ago and still vividly remember it. The beautiful pictures and the heart catching story, one you will never forget. One I never forgot. A definate must for any young horse lover.