An impressive epic, The Sport of Kings runs strong. Despite focusing on horse racing and farming of the last century, Morgan's second novel is extremely relevant for today's tumultuous American landscape. With gorgeous prose, realistic characters, and a story that never stays stagnant for long, Morgan has crafted a winning novel, entertaining and intelligent.
I'm not one for horse racing. I don't even like horses—I've always found them to be frighteningly alien in appearance. But when this novel showed up on an Anticipated Future Release List of some variety, the description somehow enticed me—I had been curious about the author anyway—and I gave it a try. Initially, I admired the strong writing, but I wasn't pulled into the story. The Sport of Kings is in many ways an epic, and it certainly takes some time for the story to develop.
Some readers will not care for the breadth of Morgan's novel. As evidenced by The Sport of Kings, Morgan is perhaps wordy at times. She has a great grasp of the English language and her descriptions will tire some readers. Further, she is an intelligent author, but that can also get in the way at times. Word choice can grow repetitive. “Dais,” for instance, is used any time a character speaks from a pulpit or platform. Who uses this word? Is this prominent in Kentucky? The frequent repetitiveness stopped me every time.
But these are minor quibbles. The fact is, The Sport of Kings is a phenomenal and sweeping family saga. It is gutsy and provoking in a way that reminds me of a serious Man Booker contender. I will not be the least surprised if The Sport of Kings does not make this year's long list (to be announced July 27). Remember, if it makes the list, you heard it from me first.