The father-son authors have produced an excellent story, recreating the youth of the Black until the time when Alex Ramsay witnesses him being loaded–with savage fury and hatred for all men–on board The Drake in a Middle Eastern port. The Prologue and Epilogue are set in the Arizona desert where Alec, now a young man, spends the night with his beloved stallion, grazing nearby. Contemplating the starry nocturnal sky Alec locates the Horsehead Nebula and seriously ponders the tantalyzing theory that his horse was sired by a celestial equine.
The main body of the book narrates the desperate attempts of various men who pursue ownership of Shetan–for pride and breeding purposes. Sheikh Ishak hides the yearling in a remote mountain fastness, but a rival sheikh sends a bold band to steal him. A young hunter and tracker named Rashid is selected to kill the venerable Old Herder, who suspects the colt’s semi-divine pedigree. Abandoned to certain death by the rival sheikh, Rashid spends months in the mountains, trailing Shetan and rescuing him from a ferocious leopard. But toleration of the man’s presence does not forge a true bond between the Arabian strangers. Also Rashid is haunted by the intermittent appearance of a peregrine falcon, which hovers over him like a future menace.
Rashid’s plans to capture and sell Shetan, to assure himself a life of comfort, are foiled by the Ishak and the arrival of a resourceful English agent called The Cat. Who will ultimately triumph during this prolonged battle of wills? His breeder and rightful owner, the rival sheikh, Rashid with whom readers come to empathize, Mansoor (the Cat) or the mighty stallion himself? Dramatic conflict is enhanced from the obvious Man vs Man scenario to Man vs Nature, for the harsh mountains and pitiless desert environments interject challenges unforeseen by human schemes. Characterized by minimal dialogue and elements of surrealism this book proves fascinating for readers of all ages.