Reviews of The Travels of First Horse: a trilogy

Ilene Sirocca
Linda Eberharter
Max Overton
Nancy Leake
Elizabeth Delisi
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   Ilene Sirocca was a very respected book reviewer for the Running River Reader, which was a wide-circulation e-zine until the end of 2000. Now she is a professional freelance reviewer. She won't review a book unless she is enthusiastic about it, preferring not to run someone's work down. When I was a beginning reviewer myself, I tried to copy her approach.

   I consider it a great compliment that she has now reviewed all my published works of fiction.

   She wrote: "Horse's travels last ten years and take him through the Middle East, on to Meluhha and beyond. While gathering knowledge and learning about other cultures, this resourceful young man acquits himself with honor, wit and style. Whether performing for royalty in Scythia as a clown with a troupe of entertainers, working with metal, running through the streets of Meluhha disguised as a ragged urchin, discovering the joys of mountain-climbing with the Gorrok, or hunting and fighting side by side with the people of the Frozen Wastes, Horse accomplishes feats of strength and courage worthy of any mythological hero. By the time he returns to his people, he has experienced great love and loss, faced countless dangers, and seen many marvels.

    Dr. Rich tells us that this story, along with many others, was handed down through oral tradition. In 800 A.D. the Ehvelen were living in Ireland, and a scribe named Grasshopper wrote down all the stories. The scrolls containing them were discovered in a cave in 1993, and Dr. Rich is now translating them. I suspect that he gives this information with a glint in his eye, but I hesitate to question the veracity of someone employed by the Department of Mythology at the University of Selfril Islands...

   Anyone who joins Horse in his journey will feel as if he was told everything that happened. Horse is a likable hero whose peace-loving nature doesn't stop him from being a ferocious warrior. His adventures are exciting and intriguing. As for the Ehvelen, Dr. Rich is translating many more of their stories. I anticipate the next installment with pleasure.

A Review in E-book Junction
by Linda Eberharter

August 7, 2000

   The Travels of First Horse are three stories which tell the story of the Ehvelen race known throughout the world and through time by such names as pixie, fairy, or gnome. These little people were hunter/gatherers in the forest land of northwest Siberia. Harmonious in nature, they lived a tranquil life until the warrior race Doshi began their attacks, killing, ravaging and raping. Heather, one Ehvelen captive escapes to return to her home with her son Horse. War continues and when Horse is 15, he is led by the Mother to go out into the cities of the world to find allies, learn the ways of the giants and bring this knowledge back to his people.

   Thus begins Horse's journey which lasts for ten years. He travels initially with an entertainment troupe bringing laughter, amazement and payment to the troupe with various acts he and the others perform. His ability of learning languages, acquiring skills of various trades and demonstrating amazing feats which many thought of as magic, earned him a reputation far reaching. As they travelled through the various ancient countries, the reader can picture where they visited by either landmarks mentioned or descriptions of the inhabitants.

   Adventures, dangers, feats of strength, agility and knowledge are laced within Horse's travels. The reader will cheer him on through each encounter willing this hero to return to his homeland equipped with the knowledge to defeat the Doshi and end his people's struggles.

   Bob Rich says these stories are not about the Ehvelen people but rather of the giants (who are our ancestors) seen through the eyes of the Ehvelen. This is true. It is a unique view of the ancient people through the eyes of one whose people were peacekeepers without rank or obsession for possessions or money.

   These stories of the Ehvelen people were discovered in County Clare, Ireland in a cave in 1993. Discovered there were scrolls written by a scribe named Grasshopper approximately 1500 years after Horse's journey. The Ehvelen people passed the stories of their history down through the generations by storytellers. This is the first written account recorded and amazingly preserved. Dr. Rich translated these stories and there are more to come. These first three stories are a fascinating read, especially to someone like myself of Irish decent who has always, at least half-way, believed in the little people. I certainly look forward to reading more of their intriguing history.

   You can also read what Linda and I had to say to each other when she interviewed me.

 Linda Eberharter is the publisher of Atlantic Bridge Publishing - She has a background in not only writing for business and pleasure, but also in marketing. She discovered the e-publishing industry in mid-1999 and was quickly convinced of its bright future knowing it would change the standard of publishing positively. Her belief in the talent of the authors she has come in contact with propelled her to pursue an e-publishing house within her business and now finds she is loving every moment of taking up her role as a fellow pioneer in this exciting industry.

Review by Max Overton

Author of The Lion of Scythia.

   The task of bringing an ancient culture to life is a difficult one for any storyteller. So when I first viewed the trilogy of books "The Travels of First Horse" detailing the life and times of Horse, a member of an ancient race of Ehvelen, now known to us only through myth and legend, I was skeptical.

   However, Bob Rich rivals the most skilled historical writers in the three books entitled "To Assyria", "From Ice to Magic" and "The Secret of Wootz". In these books he weaves a history of a legendary leader of his people, Horse, in his travels through ancient Europe and Asia. On his ten-year journey to save his people from a cruel invader he encounters many peoples, some of whom are familiar to us, and others whose identity we can only guess at. Throughout, Bob Rich brings each nation into vibrant life with descriptions of the peoples, their customs and beliefs, expertly threading them into the weave of the central story. The hero of this history interacts with members of these nations, experiencing love, friendships, betrayal and deep grief, as well as gaining information that will save his people.

   Not content with delivering a fast-paced, entertaining tale, Rich has liberally sprinkled his epic story with footnotes, giving background details of all the new and entrancing terms I encountered. At first, I tried to read all of these as I went, then gave myself up to the flow of the story, only returning at the end to these fascinating tit-bits.

   I strongly recommend this trilogy of books, "To Assyria", "From Ice to Magic" and "The Secret of Wootz" to anyone whose has a love of adventure stories and a fascination for other cultures.

Max Overton's new web site is

   You can read my reviews of Max's excellent trilogy, The Lion of Scythia, The Golden King and Funeral in Babylon.

Review by Nancy Leake

Rich, Robert. To Assyria, Book I of The Travels of First Horse, A trilogy
2000, Publisher: Bookmice
ISBN # 1-930364-73-3
[Please note: since then, Bookmice has shut down. The Trilogy is now published by Anina's Book Company, and the ISBN is 1-877053-04-X]

   The Travels of First Horse is the third story in a series of stories entitled, The Stories of the Ehvelen.

   The Ehvelen, some call them fairies, were a peaceful clan tending to Mother's work. They cared for nature in the Forest and hunted until the Doshi came into the area, then it all changed. The Doshi were nomadic warriors that came upon several Ehvelen teens, killing the boys, and stealing the girls. One of the girls, Oak, escaped, the other, Heather, remained captive for a year. She then escaped with her two-month-old son, Horse, bringing word of the coming invasion by the Doshi warriors. Heather becomes the War Leader of the Ehvelen and later forms a family with three freed Doshi slaves and their children.

   In the first book of the trilogy, Horse, named for the horses he is to care for, becomes an adult after taking part in the hunt for a brown bear. Horse leaves the tribe, while his peers marry, hunt, and fight the war of his people. He travels with Moustaf, an Areg, to learn about other cultures to help the Ehvelen battle the Doshi. Horse treks around the world, under the guise of a performer of acrobatic tricks. He also pretends to be a monkey playing shah, a game similar to chess.

   Among these and other adventures, Horse falls in love. His search for knowledge leads him on a thrilling quest until tragedy strikes. Will Horse learn the secrets of the world to enable his people to fight the Doshi?

   Robert Rich has spun a realistic world laden with detailed scenes about these people, complete with their cultural habits. Precise in-depth images abound. Entertaining for any lover of adventure with the exception of one mature love scene which might be too much for children.

* * *

Rich, Robert. The Secret of Wootz, Book II of The Travels of First Horse, A Trilogy.
2000, Publisher: Bookmice
ISBN # 1-930364-74-1

   This is part two in the series of The Travels of First Horse.

   Part II picks up with Horse and the performing troupe in the hot, dry desert of Assyria where they stop at an inn. Once inside, the innkeeper tells them their horses are causing a commotion outside. Horse goes to check and is confronted by several would be assassins, which he battles for his life.

   On the performers' travels to the palace to entertain the Chancellor, Horse sees a camel for the first time. During his show in the richly adorned royal throne room, Horse barely misses being killed by an archer's arrow. The archer is sentenced to lose his hand, but Horse intervenes and convinces the Surru, or king, to spare the man's hand in trade for lifelong service. Surru later befriends Horse.

   The next port of call is the island city of Tyre, where they meet king Eloulaios. Next, they travel to Egypt while treated like prisoners by the royal guard. When they get to Egypt, the trip there seemed like a holiday compared to the problems they encounter under the Pharaoh's rule.

   After 6 years with the troupe, Horse leaves to chase the trail of wootz, a type of steel used to make weapons. Will he find Meluhha, where the secret of wootz lies, and get out alive?

   Once again, Robert Rich tempts our sense of adventure with the continuing tale of Horse, who we have begun to love. The sense of pending danger is imminent in our hearts as we worry for his safe passage through the desert and beyond.

* * *

Rich, Robert. From Ice to Magic, Book III of The Travels of First Horse, A trilogy
2000, Publisher: Bookmice
ISBN # 1-930364-75-X

   This is part three in the series of The Travels of First Horse.

   Part III picks up with Horse North of Meluhha being hunted by guards hungry for his capture Alone with no transportation, or supplies he is attacked by a tiger. Horse slays the tiger, notices full udders, and realizes that baby tigers may be near. He follows the tiger's trail to its lair and hears breathing within. After trapping small animals and feeding them to the tiger cubs for several weeks, he teaches them to hunt. By this time, the cubs follow horse everywhere. He is now ready to move towards home.

   Shortly after beginning this stage of his trip, Horse encounters several guards from Meluhha chasing a hunting party. Horse is wounded in battle. Then, he and the tigers best the soldiers and befriend the hunters.

   Horse travels to Gorrok, home of the hunting party, where he is treated like a hero. The Gorroks guide him through the surrounding countryside to adjacent towns, where he is greeted by each successive colony. Each group treats him like a hero and travels with him to the end of the next town.

   In order to make it home, Horse and his guides must travel over a great forbidding snowcapped mountain range. Ice, snow, and freezing cold are deadly perils to which any wrong move could mean death. Will Horse conquer the great mountain range and make it home to the Forest?

   In this final part of the trilogy, Robert Rich thrills his readers with more life threatening ordeals for Horse, who has been traveling for longer than six years. His characters are so realistic and locations are visual, that I feel sad to have the story end. I have grown to love and respect Horse, and plan to pursue the additional stories of Horse's friends and family. If I were to find Horse running about my neighborhood prancing with the children and animals, I would not be the least bit surprised.

Nancy Leake
October 2000

When I wrote to Nancy, asking her to send some information about herself, she answered with the following:

   I'm an over forty writer pursuing a second career. I have a Master's degree in nursing and an A.R.N.P., advanced nurse practitioner, a certification in family practice. I'm married and live in Florida.

   I began a novel in February and finished a first draft August, which needs much work. I am fervently working at this task in addition to taking a few classes at Writer's Village University and participating in several writing groups on-line.

   I have a monthly writers column, Market Watch, in T-Zero XpandEZINE and a weekly column, Mini Market Watch, in WVU This Week. I am writing book reviews for Bookdragon Review and A-Mystery-Fanatic.

I have been published in The Nurse Practitioner 8/96 and contributed to the Management Guidelines for Adult Nurse Practitioners, by Lynne M. Hektor and will be published in the magazine Breathe in December 2000/January 2001's issue.

Review by Elizabeth Delisi

Author of Since All is passing

   TO ASSYRIA is the first volume in a trilogy entitled, THE TRAVELS OF FIRST HORSE. Set in a primitive period of earth's history, it tells the story of a peaceful people, the Ehvelen, who worship a nature goddess and care for plants and animals as carefully as they care for each other. But their idyllic existence is interrupted by invasions by the Doshi, a fierce, warlike people who trade in slaves and who judge a boy's manhood by his number of enemy kills.

   Into this time of turmoil and fear is born a boy named Horse. Half Ehvelen and half Doshi, Horse is nevertheless all Ehvelen in heart and spirit. Wanting to help his people get out from under the thumb of their cruel oppressor, he conceives of a desperate plan: he will leave his home and travel with a Doshi trading caravan, to see the rest of the world. While he travels, he hopes to learn enough of the outside world to come home and defend his people.

   TO ASSYRIA is a richly-woven tapestry of prehistoric times. The characters' lives, habits, religions, and surroundings are described in colorful detail, as are the strange cities and peoples that Horse visits on his travels. The sights, sounds, and scen195 ts of an ancient world come alive under Rich's deft hand, firmly implanting his vision of history in the reader's mind.

   If you liked THE CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR by Jean M. Auel, you'll love this lavish, sprawling first volume in THE TRAVELS OF FIRST HORSE series.

   I reviewed Elizabeth's book Since All is Passing. You can find out a little about her there.

   Elizabeth's email address is Her web site is

SINCE ALL IS PASSING, Oct. 1999, Avid Press

FATAL FORTUNE, Sept. 1998, Petals of Life

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