Skip to main content

The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan

The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan

The Sport of Kings is a contender in this year's Morning News Tournament of Books. (This won't be the last time I mention this fabulous tournament.) Morgan tackles the legacy of slavery in Kentucky by way of the Kentucky Derby. First we meet the Forge family and a young Henry Forge on his plantation. He wants to break from his father's farm. He becomes obsessed with horses and horse racing, a thing his father finds despicable and would disown him for. I found it hard to pin this book down in time. It felt like Henry's youth was taking place in the 1860s when it was more like the 1960s in reality. I hope this was intentional. Then we are introduced to Henry's daughter as she is a grown woman being groomed to take over the business. Until she falls for Allmon Shaughnessy, a groomer she hires. We get Allmon's background as well. His ancestors crossed the river to escape to Ohio while slavery was an institution in Kentucky. Now Allmon finds himself on the wrong side of the river, trying to grab hold of his future. This is a dense and lyrical book yet I found it hard to break through the  pages of description and natural history at times. Darwin is huge in this book. But the human drama was nicely told. Allmon's story is much more sympathetic than the Family Forge's, though Allmon and Henrietta Forge both remain victims of their past and we are left with the question of when will history stop repeating itself?

Number of Pages: 
545