The Mark of the Horse Lord by Rosemary Sutcliff | Award-winning historical and children’s novel

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Like the sudden opening of a cavern in his head, reality burnt upon Phaedrus, and in that ice-bright splinter of time he understood at last that this was a fight to the death, that he was fighting, not his comrade Vortimax, whom he had fought scores and hundreds of times before, but death, red-rending death such as the stag’s had been, and the hooks of the mercuries in the dark alleyway.

(from The Mark of the Horse Lord by Rosemary Sutcliff )

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