War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

War Horse book cover
Rating 9.2/10
An exceptionally poignant story of one horse's experience in the First World War.

An exceptionally poignant story of one horse's experience in the First World War.

In 1914, Joey, a young farm horse, is sold to the army and thrust into the midst of the war on the Western Front. With his officer, he charges towards the enemy, witnessing the horror of the frontline. But even in the desolation of the trenches, Joey's courage touches the soldiers around him.

Michael Morpurgo is a national treasure, a former Children's Laureate and the author of many book's that are beloved by children, parents and teachers alike. Kensuke's Kingdom, The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips and King of the Cloud Forests are amongst his most read and enjoyed stories but it is for War Horse for which he is currently best known.

In World War I over ten million humans, mainly young men, died. The war also claimed the lives of over six million horses. And it this horrifying period of world history that forms the backdrop for War Horse, a tragic tale that is told from the viewpoint of the horse, Joey. It is a tale that cleverly portrays the ridiculousness of war by showing the horse's complete incomprehension of what was unfolding in the trenches and on the battlefield; the horse is simply unable to comprehend how - or why - anybody or anything would behave in such a violent, unthinking way and be able to commit such horrific acts. War Horse highlights human cruelty and human disdain for both animals and each other whilst also highlighting just how powerful love and courage can be.  It is extremely well written, features exemplary character development and is a book that will allow younger readers to understand the horrors their great grandparents were forced faced in order to battle tyranny and retain freedom.

The final say on War Horse should always go, whenever possible to those it has been written for. A glance at the reader reviews below will show you the impact it has had upon them, and how emotional the reading expereince was for them.

"Incredible. Beautiful. Emotionally amazing. I could not live without this book!"
Ella from Hampshire.

"This was the best book I have ever read. Words can't describe how good it was. Just read it."
Jordan from America.

"I thought War Horse was brilliant! It is the most touching book I have ever read, and I would recommend it to anyone, even if they aren't animal lovers!" concurs Megan from Stafford. "This is one of the best books I have ever read and I would recommend it to everyone as it not only touches the hearts of any animal lover, but it also shows you the dreadful conditions of the First World War and the hardships they must have faced."
Grace from England.

"This book was recommended to me by a friend and to put it into a few words... I loved it. I laughed and cried, I love reading." Jessica from Tamworth.

If you are thinking of reading War Horse then have must read through the many reader comments below as they are as insightful and as honest as you could possibly wish for.

If you have read and enjoyed War Horse then Fantasy Book Review would also recommended Watership Down by Richard Adams and The Duncton Chronicles by William Horwood.

--

Michael Morpurgo has won the Whitbread Award, the Smarties Award, the Circle of Gold Award, the Children's Book Award and has been short-listed for the Carnegie Medal four times. His novels have been adapted for film (My Friend Walter, Why the Whales Came, War Horse) and stage (including, Kensuke's Kingdom for the Polka Theatre and Why the Whales Came for Alibi). Michael received an OBE in December 2006 for his services to literature.

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Reader reviews

Have Your Say

from US

5-stars

I had to read this book for summer reading and well... let's just say it isn't the best book ever. It is really boring in the beginning and after reading the first paragraph, I was ready to go on Sparknote. But by the ending of the story, it was OK, but I still won't say it's one of my favorite books.

from Australia

10-stars

A book that makes you think and you won't put it down until you have finished.

from Ireland

1-stars

I found it rather boring.

from Ireland

10-stars

It grabs you by the throat and doesn't let you go. I read it as my novel this year - so many deaths in 21 chapters. If you love reading then you would love War Horse.

from Burnley

10-stars

vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr yyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyggggggggggggggggg oooooooooooooooooooooooo oooooooooooooooooooooooooooood!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

from United states

10-stars

Awesome. I loved it, the best book I have read.

from South Africa

10-stars

Amazing.

from UK

5-stars

Ummmmmm........ kind of confused on lots of parts.

from Aus

10-stars

It was so good!

from UK

10-stars

Best book ever!

from England

10-stars

At first when I started to read this book I found it extremely boring but then when I actually started to read this book it got so interesting. Especially after Topthorn dies. PLS READ THIS BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)

from Hampshire

10-stars

Read this book thousands of times! I cried, laughed and genuinely felt for the characters. We are reading this in English at the moment and it is absolutely brilliant!

from Norfolk

10-stars

It was amazing, I cried loads because it was so sad but then I laughed when it was funny. Michael Morpurgo did a good job of putting emotional language in there, he also made it incredibly realistic at points I could see the image he was talking about and I felt that I was there. I'm learning about War Horse in my English class at the moment and its making me sad because I know what's going to happen next! Honestly though if you haven't read it YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK!!!

from United Kingdom

10-stars

I'm 12. I think this is a really good book, learning it in English. Amazing. 10 stars.

from England

10-stars

It's a interesting book. I think you should read this book. It's the best book I have ever read.

from England

10-stars

I'm 12 and found the book AMAZING! Everyone in the world should have a chance to read this book.

from London

10-stars

This book is so amazing, I can read it until I am dead. I cried a little bit. But you have to read it. Thank you Michael Morpurgo.

from Ammanford, Wales

9-stars

I'm 12 and this book was enjoyable and amazing.

from My Yard

10-stars

This book was fantastic, I kinda want a #2.

from Michigan, US

10-stars

This book was amazing! I read it in school and I'm only 12 but I want to buy it so bad! I just can't find it anywhere!

from England

10-stars

It was an amazing book!!! I couldn't stop reading it! I would take it every where with me! Anyone who hasn't read it yet, READ IT!

from who lives in a house

10-stars

Wow this book is absolutely amazing I really can't put into words how fabulously awesome this really is. Thank you Micheal Morpurgo for writing this book I really think he should write another book about Joey's life later on after the war and if Albert's dad sort's his life out or not?

from florida

7-stars

this book was good but a little slow.

from US

10-stars

I'm only ten and I love this book. I read it within a week! I loved it and give it a 10!!!

from England

10-stars

It is a great book.

from Was

10-stars

Best book ever!!!!!!!

from United Kingdom

10-stars

it is a good book

from UK

10-stars

I thought this book was amazing even though it was heartbreaking and emotional! But it is a thrilling and brilliant book!!!

from In a house

10-stars

I LOVED this book. I thought it was one of his best books so far, it was very heartbreaking at some places but then it just got better and when it did get better it was amazing. I'm only 15 and enjoyed this book. I love animals and especially horses and also I am one of those people that don't read a lot and I read this book within a week because this book was incredible. I would very much so recommend this book, it was by far the best book that I have read by Micheal Morpurgo and the best book that I have read overall by the books that I have read :) !!!!!!! PLEASE READ THIS BOOK !!!!!!!!!!!!! Also if I could rate this book out of 10 I would give it 11 :p

from Uk

10-stars

I loved it.

from England

10-stars

Really good book for all ages but I think a bit of fighting so some people will be down hearted but it is amazing book and I have read it 10 times and have seen the move 6 times, so there you have it .

from Calabasas, California

10-stars

I am 13 years old and I love this book. I have an English tutor and she told me to read this book and I enjoyed it. I am also doing this in English and drama for GCSE and it is such a great book to read. It's like one of the best book I have ever read! :-) I have read it like 10 times.

from Michigan

10-stars

Loved it.

from Bristol

9-stars

An extremely amazing and touching book, recomended to me by my school.

from Where bobby lives... duh

10-stars

Great book, very moving. Read it 2 times and would happily read it a third. :D

from West Midlands

9-stars

I found this book boring to start with, but once I got into the book, it was very good. Very moving and I felt a lot of sympathy for Joey and Albert :-( I would recommend this book to 12+ :-)

from Dublin

9-stars

It is a very good book. I would recommend this book for people 10+. I do not like Ted Naracott. I was sad when Topthorn and Friedrich died but it has a happy ending, when Albert gets Joey back. Iit is an overall very good book.

from Dublin, Ireland

9-stars

I love this book. I read it with my class and we read it every Friday. We actually all love it, full of adventure and very serious with lots of action. I recommend it to everyone from 7+.

from Dublin

9-stars

I loved this book it had a lot of action and emotion. I didn't like the first three chapters because I didn't think there was much going on. But the rest of the chapters were brilliant! My favourite character was Joey because he had a lot of courage and he didn't want to leave Topthorn behind. However I didn't like Albert's Dad because he was selfish. This book shows what it was like for horses and men in the war. I would recommend this to anyone over the age of seven.

from Dublin

10-stars

Ok. Wow. Brilliant book. I absolutely loved it. Anyone could read it (and I mean anyone) and couldn't resist falling in love with it. I go horse riding and know already horses are good creatures when treated nicely but this just shows any other people who don't believe it. It shows that through anything the bond between Joey and Albert is strong enough to go through war. Read it and you'll understand.

from Paris, France

10-stars

This is a one great book! I French but I am in love with his wonderful books that he wrote! I think this is the best book that Michael Morpurgo wrote!

from United Kingdom

9-stars

Great!!

from Branford

10-stars

War horse was a great book, movie was also awesome!!!

from Washington

10-stars

Best book I've ever read!!! I was crying soooo hard!!! :)

from Norway

10-stars

Awesome book!

from Hell

9-stars

A really good book. I would read it over n over again if I had time.

from Chorley, Lancishire

10-stars

Best book ever [:

from USA

10-stars

Best book I've read in 8th grade that really touched me. That includes The Hunger Games series. Truly incredible.

from Canada

9-stars

Awesome :)

from Wales

10-stars

The most amazing and inspiring book that I have ever read.

from London

10-stars

I think the book is excellent, it has all the action. I recommened the book to everyone.

from Hampshire (YAY!)

10-stars

Incredible. Beautiful. Emotionally amazing. I could not live without this book!

from Glasgow

8-stars

I thought the book was very interesting. It is quite different from all the other books that I have read. I would say it is suitable for 10+. Michael Morpurgo is a very inspiring author.

from England

10-stars

This book is amazing, it really makes you think.

from Swieqi, Malta

9-stars

I read it and I loved the movie as well. After finishing it last year I knew that it would once turn into a movie. It is a fantastic book and it tells about the sufferings in World War 1 a lot. The book is a bit short, and is almost like the movie. I felt sad for the horse, for Joey, for Captain Nicholls, and for every character except of selfish people like Albert's father, who thinks only of himself and sells Joey without even asking Albert once. I am especially sad when Joey reaches No Man's Land. The ending is very good because Joey and Albert reunite. The film does a good job and is worth watching, and especially Michael Morpurgo's fans will love it.

from birmingham

10-stars

I am 11 years old, and I got the book War Horse for Christmas and I have just finished. I loved it, it made me feel as if I was Joey the horse but I don't like Albert's dad, because he has no sympathy for Joey and then sells him. Before I read this book I didn't think about the war but now I know how important it is. Great book!!! P.S. please write back Michael.

from America

10-stars

This was the best book I have ever read. Words can't describe how good it was. Just read it.

from Stafford

10-stars

I thought War Horse was brilliant! It is the most touching book I have ever read, and I would recommend it to anyone, even if they aren't animal lovers! I enjoyed the book that much that I am now reading it again, and I never read books! I can't wait to go and see it at the cinema and also at the theatre in April! So if your looking for a book you don't want to put down, choose War Horse!

from MI

10-stars

This book was soo awesome. I continually read it all the time!!!!

from Unicorn Town

9-stars

It was a great book the only problem was the amount of people that died in it.

from Wales

1-stars

best book ever

from Stockton

10-stars

I thought the book was great. I was writing a review on it, and used this to help me. But this is just awesome. I would recommend it for ages 9+.

from England

10-stars

This is one of the best books I have ever read and I would recommend it to everyone as it not only touches the hearts of any animal lover, but it also shows you the dreadful conditions of the First World War and the hardships they must have faced.

from Tamworth

10-stars

This book was recommended to me by a friend and to put it into a few words... I loved it. I laughed and cried, I love reading and I am glad that Michael Morpurgo has written this book. I am now reading the follow on to this book, called Farm Boy. This book has the most spectacular points of a horses view and it also shows that there is nothing to be scared about horses. I ride myself and love it so I can see where Albert is coming from when he is heart broken when his father sells Joey to the army. I was touched by this. I have my own horse and would hate anybody who did that to any horse whether they needed the money or not. £40 is not enough money for a companion and I would have thought about what I was doing before i did it. I am glad that Albert got Joey back and looked after him on the farm just like he one had before. I was upset when Topthorn died in the middle of the book because Joey was without a friend and an owner when his new owner was killed the same day as Topthorn. Over all I am really grateful that my friend showed me this book in the School Library. Thanks Emma, I love you for it. xxx READ THIS BOOK PEOPLE YOU NEED TO!!!

from Manchester

10-stars

i am 13 and i had to read this book for my book report for school, i found the book a beautifully moving story of love and friendship through animals!!!!!! it gave me lots of information about world war!!!! i have recommended this book to all my friends and family and now i recomend this to you!!!!!

from Cheshire

10-stars

I absolutley loved this book! I think it is extremely moving! I also loved the sequel to this book, farm boy. Michael Morpurgo is an excellent author and I have read many of his books and not disliked one so far.

from Cooper

10-stars

I think the book was very well organised.

from UK

10-stars

I loved every bit of it.

from Philadelphia

8-stars

I feel that the book's overall writing as quite mediocre. While I read, I felt that Michael Morpurgo had a thesaurus.com tab open on his computer. But don't get me wrong. I had much trouble putting the book down the second I picked it up. Even though the story was written that well the story itself was excellent which is the reason why there is a play, and soon to be a movie, of the same name. The story is so rich that it would be a crime not to share it in any artistic style. It was very easy to relate to the story because everyone has a love for their pet and would be distraught if it was ever taking away from them. In my mind Morpurgo is a story teller, not a writer, and there is nothing wrong with that. Over all this is a great read and I have recommended it countless times. I can't wait to see what Spielberg is going to go with it. SPOILER ALERT! I did not like the ending whatsoever. It wasn't that Joey didn't die, or that Emilie did, but that it ended on an unusual and unneeded note. Who cares about Albert's wife and her pastries? It was a stupid way of ending the amazing story. I hope the movie doesn't end the same way.

from Cody, Wy

10-stars

It is an awesome book! I love it.

from The Moon

10-stars

A deeply moving book as I love horses and this book explains all about the compassion, partnership and love between the horse and his master. I recommend this because it's a very atmospheric book. Topthorn was a good friend to Joey :D

from Manchester UK

10-stars

I absolutely loved this book, the bond between man and horse is amazing. I've worked with horses most of my life. I'm 10 and I started at 4 so this book is amazing.

from Slovina

9-stars

It's good with lots of adventure!

from Scarborough

5-stars

I loved this book as it shows actually how much in the war they relied on horses and if it wasn't for the horses we would all be living under German rule. I loved it and love horses.

from West Yorkshire

10-stars

I am 14 years old and have worked with horses for 4 years now. I was introduced to War Horse by a friend, who enjoyed the book alot. I bought myself a copy and I simply can't get enough of this book. The bond between man and horse is displayed very well throughout the book. I liked the way that Micheal Morpurgo shows how the war can effect some characters, such as Albert's father, who comes accross as a selfish men who doesn't care about anyone but himself. But when he takes Joey from the stable, he is suddenly softer with him, and he explains that he is selling him for Albert, making him come accross as a completely new character. I have read this book 9 times now, and cried every time. I think this book is an amazingly moving piece, and it is a real adult fantasy. LOVE IT!

from Ljubljana

8-stars

In War horse the characters are Joey, Albert, Emily, Emile’s grand papa and Topthorn. Topthorn is grand horse that works for the army and is War horse is a book by Michael Morpurgo that is based upon a young horse named Joey who trains to be a war horse during the first world war. This novel is based upon true friendship between Joey and a young boy named Albert. I n this book the characters are Joey, Albert, Topthorn, Emily and Emily's grand papa. Topthorn is a grand horse that Joey stick's close to throughout the story. Emily and her Grand papa take care of Joey and Topthorn through one of the toughest of times in the war. The themes of war horse are war, sadness and death. There is evidence of war when they were carried off France to fight and in the book many people died such as Emily and Topthorn that results in sadness. I would recommend this book to children 8+ because the context can be hard to understand and to read, but, overall I think War Horse is a great book to read if your into books that will keep you on the edge of your seat. War horse is a book by Michael Morpurgo that is based upon a young horse named Joey who trains to be a war horse during the first world war. This novel is based upon true friendship between Joey and a young boy named Albert. I n this book the characters are Joey, Albert, Topthorn, Emily and Emily's grand papa. Topthorn is a grand horse that Joey stick's close to throughout the story. Emily and her Grand papa take care of Joey and top thorn through one of the toughest of times in the war. The themes of war horse are war, sadness and death. There is evidence of war when they were carried off France to fight and in the book many people died such as Emily and Topthorn that results in sadness. I would recommend this book to children 8+ because the context can be hard to understand and to read, but, overall I think War Horse is a great book to read if your into books that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

from Bude

10-stars

Very good!

from Malvern

1-stars

I found the book quite boring. Wars aren't my thing, but all the other Michael Morpurgo books are a ten out of ten.

from Brighton, UK

7-stars

I raised an eyebrow at first at War Horse being a fantasy novel - but given that Joey is more sentient than we believe horses in reality to be, I suppose it is. The source of my confusion is that while I like the book, I love (which is to say worship) the play - hopefully will be seeing it for the third time later this year. And in the play, there being no narrator, Joey and the other horses in respect of their sentience are appear just like any other horse. Of course, if we want to imagine a supernatural element to them, we may. And then the play itself becomes a fantasy story too. I look forward to (and fear) what the film will do with the story.

from Scotland

10-stars

I am 12 years old and I live in Scotland. I have had horses since I was four and have always loved riding. My mum introduced me to War Horse three years ago and I have read it four times! I just can't get enough of it and I cry every time I read it. I really sympathised with Albert, I think he is a very strong character and I really respected the way he looked after his horses. I didn't sympathise with Alberts dad, this is because I thought he was a careless man who only thinks about himself. This all changes in the end of the book. I think Michael Morpurgo is an amazing author and he inspires me into writig with all his amazing stories. This book has changed the way I thought about the war and it would be great if any more young readers would like to read it. Thanks.

9.2/10 from 81 reviews

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