Rough Magic

Rough Magic

Riding the World's Loneliest Horse Race

Book - 2019
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At the age of nineteen, Lara Prior-Palmer discovered a website devoted to "the world's longest, toughest horse race"--an annual competition of endurance and skill that involves dozens of riders racing a series of twenty-five wild ponies across 1,000 kilometers of Mongolian grassland. On a whim, she decided to enter the race. As she boarded a plane to East Asia, she was utterly unprepared for what awaited her. Riders often spend years preparing to compete in the Mongol Derby, a course that re-creates the horse messenger system developed by Genghis Khan, and many fail to finish. Prior-Palmer had no formal training. She was driven by her own restlessness, stubbornness, and a lifelong love of horses. She raced for ten days through extreme heat and terrifying storms, catching a few hours of sleep where she could at the homes of nomadic families. Battling bouts of illness and dehydration, exhaustion and bruising falls, she decided she had nothing to lose. Each dawn she rode out again on a fresh horse, scrambling up mountains, swimming through rivers, crossing woodlands and wetlands, arid dunes and open steppe, as American television crews chased her in their jeeps. Told with terrific suspense and style, in a voice full of poetry and soul, Rough Magic captures the extraordinary story of one young woman who forged ahead, against all odds, to become the first female winner of this breathtaking race.
Publisher: New York : Catapult, 2019.
Copyright Date: ©2019
ISBN: 9781948226981
Characteristics: 274 pages ; 22 cm.


From Library Staff

A young woman travels to Mongolia to compete in the Mongol Derby, a thousand kilometer horse race across rough terrain. For fans of both Wild and Boys in the Boat.

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Apr 17, 2020

The author's writing style is a bit pretentious but elegant, like something out of the 18th century. What results is a quite beautiful meditation on her short life, horses, endurance, and Mongolia, while quite often stretching the metaphors a bit far. Still, very worth reading, and even a bit exciting by the end. I would also suggest looking up the documentary that was filmed about the race, All The Wild Horses, for some gorgeous visuals to go with the gorgeous descriptions and putting some faces to names.

Jul 03, 2019

Ohh, to be 19 again, with that youthful courage, impulsivity, stamina, self-doubts and poetic soul!! A little stream-of-conscientiousness as she appreciates the place and moves from not caring to competing and examines herself in the process. A fun read! A TV crew made a documentary the year that the author rode (and won!) this 1000-km race. Watch it here:


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