Nobody can talk me out of this one. Too grisly for a first book, I admit, but Two is where Stuff Happens. And there’s a death at the end of Two (no spoilers) – this picture is talking that death to me. My sister understands me. The white horse heads upwards, the carcass a load on his back, and… you know. The carcass is just carcass, but the horse?
This lad has the feel of Temujin if not the features. Temujin spends much of the book in a pother about his head wear; and the weight of kingship sits heavily upon him. There’s Jamuqa’s trophy helmet too, though that’s teardrop shape, black iron smoothly damascened with gold dragons in flight. Description of a real helmet – I’ll give you that one later.
I’ve driven my sister crazy with possible covers for the first. But we have a winner: Delacroix, ‘Tiger Attacking a Wild Horse’. This is so similar to steppe art I’m astounded. I can guarantee they’d have loved this.
Fighting animals were always a topic:
Fourth from the trunk was one of those thousand-year-old themes: The War of the Animals. “Here’s a hard one.” It was life on earth as a grim struggle, animals pitted one against another. In an abstraction, a distillation, they were coupled as you like, they didn’t have to be enemies, and griffins and rocs were included. The scene was after a hand-to-hand scrimmage in battle or a melee in wrestling, no space left in the jostle; and in each distinct fight neither opponent unambiguously winning, but locked together by tooth and claw and horn – eagle and tiger, argali ram and snow leopard, wolf and unicorn impaled, imprisoned each other. Most of their visages were turned outward, grisly and awry. “Do grizzled old warriors stand in front of this and say, I have often felt life is like that?”
Here’s an anatomy of the ideal horse, from steppe epic:
His nostrils quiver as briskly as the gills of a fish; he has a hare’s haunches, a weasel’s spine, legs from the gazelle; the crest of his neck he arches like the peacock; his head a serpent’s head, dainty and neat and erect.
This fellow is also blue. Slightly blue, and I’ve noticed a number of blatantly blue horses in steppe art. We do have several blue roans in the story; Temujin’s fond of blue roans.