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Sun Horse, Moon Horse

by Rosemary Sutcliff
112 pages, Historical Fiction
Reviewed by Jenny

An imaginative and tragic story of the White Horse of Uffington and the man who made it.


On the wild horse-run Downs of southern England, before the Romans came, young Lubrin found it in his heart to try to capture the darting flight of a swallow by drawing in the earth. Since that morning he could not stop trying to draw the beauty he saw around him, and when he saw one mare, whiter than a dream, she haunted him with her beauty and his desire to draw her.

And when his people are captured and subdued by another tribe, Lubrin gambles all he can on drawing that mare in the side of a hill, drawing her in the chalk under the green turf, to make a sacrifice not only for his conquerors, but also as a protection for his own people. But every sacrifice must be made with blood, and Lubrin knows this.


Morality is not an issue in this story. While there are good and bad people, and while the entire cast is pagan, for the most part there is a high level of human dignity and justice that keeps the story clean.

Spiritual Content

The characters believe in the old Celtic gods and worship them accordingly. There are priests, sacrifices, and rituals.

The personality of Lubrin himself touches on an interesting aspect of nature, and that is the close link some people feel with the beauty around them and the desire to capture it in art.


Including the fight between Lubrin’s people and the conquering tribe, there are fist-fights among the boys, mentioned sicknesses, and sacrifices. Very little is described in detail, though it is described well.

Drug and Alcohol Content

A priest drinks a beer steeped in drugs to open his mind to the spirits. Alcoholic drinks such as wine, ale, and mead are consumed.

Sexual Content

There is a marriage ceremony and the mention of a birth, no more.

Crude or Profane Language or Content



One of the most tragic and beautiful of Sutcliff’s stories, this is an imaginative explanation for the mysterious White Horse of Uffington that can be seen today etched into the chalk of the Berkshire Downs. While a small book, it is by no means lacking in the gorgeous detail and touching circumstances intrinsic to the author’s style. She carries you back through the imagination of her character Lubrin and his love of art to the land of the White Horse and the people who lived there.

Fun Score: 5
Values Score: 4
Written for Age: 13+

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