|"The Horse of Bronze"|
|First Appearance||The First Heroes|
|Collected||Atlantis and Other Places|
"The Horse of Bronze" is a fantasy novella by Harry Turtledove, largely inspired by the works of Homer of Ancient Greece. "The Horse of Bronze" was published in the 2004 anthology The First Heroes by Tor and reprinted in Atlantis and Other Places in 2010.
It tells the story of Cheiron, a centaur whose people have lost contact with their trading partners, the Nuggies of the Tin Isle. Thus, they no longer have access to tin and are unable to forge weapons of bronze.
After this disadvantage leads to a major defeat at the hands of the bronze-possessing sphinxes, Cheiron leads an expedition to the Tin Isle. After encountering a number of mythological creatures in the Inner Sea, he reaches the Tin Isle, where he attempts to reestablish contact with the Nuggies. Instead he finds that the Nuggies have nearly gone extinct and have been displaced by mans. Cheiron is in awe of the mans, recognizing them as being very close to the gods, and is very conscious of the inferiority of all other species with which he is familiar to them. Physically, the mans seem to be a pure extraction of the design template which the gods mixed with animals in the other sentient species they created, and intellectually, they display a level of curiosity previously exhibited only by the gods. They have a self-assured sense of superiority and believe they are entitled to use other species as they wish simply because of the inequalities existing between them and all other sentient beings.
Cheiron negotiates a new trade agreement with the mans that will allow the centaurs to resume tin importation. At a feast to celebrate the agreement, centaurs drank cerevisia, a beverage with which they were unfamiliar and became intoxicated and involved in brawls with the mans. This resulted in the trade agreement being abrogated, and Cheiron leading his centaurs back home to report their failure.
On getting home, Cheiron learns from Pholus that mans are also present in eastern Europe. The two centaurs dread the day when the Lapiths will drive them from their home. Eventually the Lapiths do drive the Centaurs nearly to extinction and take possession of their homeland for no reason other than that they believe it is theirs by right.
See also[edit | edit source]
- Thessalonica, fantasy novel set in 6th-century-AD Greece, with similar character treatment of Centaurs. Harry Turtledove has not specified whether this novel shares continuity with "The Horse of Bronze."
- "The Sea Mother's Gift," Laura Frankos' contribution to The First Heroes.