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Publisher's Summary

An American myth and a contemporary portrait of the scars of the past that run through a family and of our desperate need to escape our history, to subsume it with pleasure - or to rise above it with glory.

Hellsmouth, a willful thoroughbred filly, has the legacy of a family riding on her.

The Forges: one of the oldest and proudest families in Kentucky; descended from the first settlers to brave the Wilderness Road; as mythic as the history of the South itself; and now, first-time horse breeders. Through an act of naked ambition, Henry Forge is attempting to blaze this new path on the family's crop farm. His daughter, Henrietta, becomes his partner in the endeavour but has desires of her own.

When Allmon Shaughnessy, an African American man fresh from prison, comes to work in the stables, the ugliness of the farm's history rears its head. Together, through sheer will, the three stubbornly try to create a new future - one that isn't determined by Kentucky's bloody past - while they mould Hellsmouth into a champion.

The Sport of Kings has the force of an epic. A majestic story of speed and hunger, racism and justice, this novel is an astonishment from start to finish.

©2016 C. E. Morgan (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic Reviews

"With The Sport of Kings, C.E. Morgan has delivered a masterpiece. Rich, deep, and ambitious, this book is, by any standard, a Great American Novel." (Philipp Meyer, author of The Son and American Rust)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • bookylady
  • 23-04-2017

Loved it, loved it, loved it.

Any additional comments?

I am not surprised that this novel has been nominated for so many prizes. If you like historical novels that cover big themes (racism, slavery, inter-racial relationships, misogyny, evolution, Darwinism, family loyalty, cultural supremacy, the failure of American healthcare systems, criminal justice etc) then this is a story worth investing in. It is a long book and I managed to listen to it in big chunks which really helped to get me hooked.

Set against the world of horse breeding and racing in Kentucky this is the story of the rich, white Forge family. When a young mixed-race ex convict arrives in their lives and proves himself to be an expert handler of their prize racehorse, he ruffles feathers and piques interest in more ways than one. Thus he and the Forge family are set on a path to mutual destruction and lost opportunities.

A masterclass of writing and sympathetic narration. I will definitely listen to this again.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • christine
  • 19-05-2016

Gone With the Wind meets Moby Dick and Deadwood

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This will become a classic. Greatly admired by most reviewers, from the New Yorker to the Telegraph. The audible version is exquisitely read.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Meet Reuben Bedford Walker the Third. You won't be the same again.

Have you listened to any of George Newbern’s other performances? How does this one compare?

I have not heard of him before. But I tried to send him a message to say Thanks! and Wow!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

At 600 pages. Unlikely. Best read slowly, since it contains many interludes and usually beautiful diversions.

Any additional comments?

The best book I have listened to for a long time.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • avagardro
  • 29-11-2017

Epic. beautifully written.

Wow. that's all I managed to say as the recording ended. so much to process and take in. beautifully written. so eloquent. Like poetry in parts. What a story and so wonderfully woven together. I'm sure some of the finer lessons and themes lost on me but I'm so glad to have enjoyed this amazing epic

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  • d
  • 03-10-2017

Didn't quite live up to its billing...

This is a long book that could have done with a good edit. It is the sort of genre I enjoy so it was a bit disappointing. The story was good but not compelling and the whole thing was not helped by the awkward narration. Difficult to root for any of the characters and overall it missed the mark for me.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 21-07-2017

mixed feelings

Really struggled with this book at first and would have given up on it if not required for a course I am doing, however it did improve and get more interesting as it progressed. Found the race issues very uncomfortable although doubtless authentic sadly. The book seemed to go off on a tangent at times. It feels more like a book you need a study guide for. Quite heavy. Extremely technical in places. Found the more minor character of Reuben particularly engaging. It is well written. Rich use of language. The story is an interesting one. It's a book which I am glad I persevered with because of the challenge. Not a favourite though. Do recognise the talent and skill of the writer. Well performed.