I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour and sharing my review for Rough Magic by Lara Prior-Palmer.
Thank you to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part and to Ebury Publishing for sending me a copy of the book in return for an honest review.
Scroll on for a taster of the book and to read my review.
The Mongol Derby is the world’s toughest horse race. An outrageous feat of endurance across the vast Mongolian plains once traversed by the army of Genghis Khan, the Derby sees competitors ride 25 horses across 1000km, and it’s rare that more than half of the riders make it to the finish line.
In 2013 Lara Prior-Palmer – nineteen, wildly underprepared and in search of the great unknown – decided to enter the race. Finding on the wild Mongolian steppe, strength and self-knowledge she didn’t know she possessed, even whilst caught in biblical storms and lost in the mountains, Lara tore through the field with her motley crew of horses. She didn’t just complete the race: in one of the Derby’s most unexpected results, she won, becoming the youngest-ever competitor to conquer the course.
A tale of endurance, adventure and man’s struggle to tame the wild, Rough Magic is the extraordinary story of one woman’s quest to find herself in one of the most remote and challenging landscapes on earth.
As regular visitors to this blog know, most of my reviews are of fictional stories. So when the opportunity came up to read and review a memoir, I was intrigued to see how my thoughts about the book would differ. This certainly was a curious read!
At 19 years old, Lara Prior-Palmer decides on a whim to enter The Mongol Derby, the world’s wildest and toughest horse race. With no training and a care-free attitude, she embarks on a journey that ends with her becoming the race’s youngest, and first-ever female winner.
Rough Magic is the musings of Lara’s experiences through the race. She wrote most of it whilst on the race, so it felt like I was living inside Laura’s head. At times, her thoughts become the ramblings of a wandering mind, a result of the solitary hours of being free and journeying on horseback through a wild environment.
At the beginning when Lara’s tells us that she’s going to enter the race, I felt myself wanting to jump into the pages and tell her how crazy she was. However, as the journey progresses, I did wonder if it was Lara’s unprepared nature that helped her to win. The other riders had prepared and trained for up to a year prior to the race and secured sponsorship from companies in or related to the equine industry. They had a lot riding on this race.
I have ridden several times for only short periods and within 10 minutes my legs are aching so I can appreciate what endurance you need for such an undertaken. I’ve also only ever ridden one particular horse because I trusted her and got used to her nature and her ways. In this race, competitors change horses at each stop . Horse riding is very much about the relationship between horse and rider so to ride 25 horses over 1,000km in 10 days is no mean feat.
The wild and untamed landscape also throws up some serious weather. Lara’s sheer determination keeps her going through it. I remember at one point during the book, Lara does not make it in time to the next stop so she ties the horse to herself with a bungee type rope and sleeps like that in the open air. Fair play to her, she has guts and my admiration!
LARA PRIOR-PALMER was born in London in 1994. Her aunt is Lucinda Green, a legendary rider and one of the UK’s best-ever equestrians. Lara studied conceptual history and Persian at Stanford University. In 2013, she competed in the 1000-kilometer Mongol Derby in Mongolia, sometimes described as the world’s toughest and longest horse race. Rough Magic is her first book.
You can find Lara on Twitter at @LaraPriorPalmer.
Be sure to drop by the other blogs on the tour!