Lately, I’ve been on the lookout for modern novels that heavily feature horses. But fictional horses seem fairly scarce in the 21st century. Damn you Henry Ford! (And to a lesser extent, Preston Tucker!) So I jumped at Wynne’s War (by Aaron Gwyn) when I saw it. Here’s the basic premise: An Army Ranger, who’s also a horse expert, helps prep a special forces team to ride horses into enemy territory in the mountains of Afghanistan. The book is short, adorned with “simple, masculine prose.” (For some reason, I relate this exact phrase with Ernest Hemingway, although I can’t find anything that confirms the veracity of that association.) The setting descriptions throughout the book are quite elegant, which reminded me of one of my favorite classic novels, For Whom the Bell Tolls. (I loved most of the books I was assigned to read in school, but this is one of the few I re-read after graduating.)
The book features fascinating details on horses and warfare. Consider the fact that firing an automatic rifle in an enclosed space will creates strains in air pressure that will leave you eyes hurting for days. Call of Duty 4 didn’t go into this stuff! My biggest complaint would be that sometimes the action turns cliched. Stop me if you’ve heard this before:
• A mortally wounded enemy is tortured into a secret (ala Taken, 24)
• A character is nicknamed Ox (ala Saved by the Bell)
• The hero receives stitches without anesthetic (ala Roadhouse)
• The only female in a 1000 square miles falls in love with and beds down with the hero (ala every movie ever starring any member of the Expendables cast)
On the whole, Wynne’s War goes pretty much the way you’d expect it to go, but that doesn’t mean the journey isn’t enjoyable along the way.