War Horse by Michael Morpurgo – a Review

Title: War Horse

Author: Michael Morpurgo

Published: 1982

Age Rating: 10+

Star Rating: 5/5

War Horse is the ultimate war story of friendship, emotion and moving on: to be read over and over, and to engrave a moral on your personality. Reading this story in the viewpoint of Joey the horse, is the key aspect to make the book unique and completely original, I think: it is such a clever idea, reading the thoughts and feelings of a horse during the harsh years of the First World War. Initially the story is based at a farm, home to Albert Narracott and his parents, where Joey survives a few unsettled years, friends with Albert and wary of the often drunk and unpleasant Mr Narracott. Morpurgo describes the bond between the two main characters (Joey and Albert) so beautifully and descriptively, it has the reader hooked. And then, when news of war breaks out, Joey is led away by Mr Narracott (unknown to Albert) to join the Cavalry, and become a war horse, belonging to the kindly Captain Nicollas. Throughout the following chapters, much information about the Cavalry and War is packed into the text, offering a great knowledgeable and interesting read. In these chapters, Joey and his rider are sent to the front lines in a battle and exposed to a lot of danger. Sadly Captain Nicollas is killed in the very first battle, and Joey goes on to become horse of a new owner – Trooper Warren: just as kindly, but not as experienced a rider as the Captain, it seems. Joey painfully longs for his first and best friend Albert as he carries Trooper Warren into battle. An emotional few pages. The British loose the battle and Trooper Warren and Joey are captured by the Germans. Joey is then put to work as a Cart-Puller, hauling injured soldiers to medic tents for treatment. It is then, that Joey meets Topthorn ‘a strong black stallion’ and the two horses become close in friendship. As the front line moves, the casualties decrease and Joey and Topthorn are left with a French Farmer and his granddaughter, Emile, who cares deeply for the horses. The horses are Emile’s passion, and reason to live. She is a sickly child, with only her grandfather to care for her, but the horses gave her hope and pleasure – and strength. But then the war returns and the horses are commissioned again by the Germans. Their role is now to pull a gun – a dangerous and life-threatening task for two horses, over the conditions Joey and Topthorn travel. Topthorn later dies of exhaustion which is a devastating occurrence in the story. Joey strays from the group afterwards, frightened by gun-shots into an area called ‘No Man’s Land’, into a sick horses Stable Yard. Immediately he recognises a face he desires – a companion who he has pined for ever since becoming a War Horse! Albert! At first, to Joey’s disappointment, Albert does not recognise Joey beneath the blood and dirt and we see poor Joey’s difficulty in communicating, but eventually Albert recognises his life-long friend. At last the war ends, but then yet another disaster strikes; Joey is put up for auction. But he is bought by Emile’s Grandpapa. As Emile died and the Grandpapa sees Joey’s rightful owner – Albert, distraught over the separation, Joey is then reunited with Albert.

Albert takes Joey back to England and marries his sweetheart: Maisie Brown and all ends well. A fascinating, emotional tale. A definite 5 out of 5 star rating for such a classic story and characters.


Hope you enjoyed that and that it encourages you to pick up Michael Morpurgo’s wonderful War Horse. Next weeks review will be based on a new book out called Murder Most Unladylike, by Robin Stevens, which is yet another enjoyable and original story. It is going to be posted a little earlier than usual, however this week because there are a few books I’d like to review – so there might be two in store for you, this week!  Murder Most Unladylike is a ‘Wells and Wong’ Mystery which suggests there might be a new series on the way (?).

Also, I’d just like to remind people to please make a comment if you’ve read a review. I would love to hear your feedback, and your thoughts on the book. Also, we’ve had no comments yet!

I’ve managed to sort out a ‘Index of Book Reviews’ – you’ll see a link for it just under the title, which is a complete list of all the reviews there has been. Also it will notify you on which book will be reviewed the following week. Make sure you have a look!


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