Rough Magic by Lara Prior-Palmer @LaraPriorPalmer @PenguinUKBooks @EburyPublishing #RoughMagic #NetGalley


The Mongol Derby is the world’s toughest horse race. A feat of endurance across the vast Mongolian plains once traversed by the people of Genghis Khan, competitors ride 25 horses across a distance of 1000km. Many riders don’t make it to the finish line.

In 2013 Lara Prior-Palmer – nineteen, underprepared but seeking the great unknown – decided to enter the race. Driven by her own restlessness, stubbornness, and a lifelong love of horses, she raced for seven days through extreme heat and terrifying storms, catching a few hours of sleep where she could at the homes of nomadic families. Battling bouts of illness and dehydration, exhaustion and bruising falls, she found she had nothing to lose, and tore through the field with her motley crew of horses. In one of the Derby’s most unexpected results, she became the youngest-ever champion and the first woman to win the race.

A tale of adventure, fortitude and poetry, Rough Magic is the extraordinary story of one young woman’s encounter with oblivion, and herself.


Rough Magic: Riding the world’s wildest horse race

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This is a true story of a young impulsive woman who at nineteen years old applies and is accepted to take part in the world’s wildest horse race, the Mongol Derby. This race of endurance and stamina is staged over 25 gruelling days and 1000km of harsh and unforgiving landscape. It is known before a page is turned that she wins the race but this story is about the journey that got her there.

Arriving with little more knowledge than what is printed above, it isn’t long before she gets a taste of just what she has let her self in for. No woman has ever won this race, which makes her even more determined to be the first to do it. Some of the riders have done this race before, others full of research and probably a little too well equipped.

Each day is a learning curve to get it right tomorrow, the right choice of the 25 horses that she would ride paramount, something she had to learn by trial and error in the early days. The descriptions of the terrain were mesmerizing to me and the quotes entwined with her own writing making the whole experience a timeline account, that could have been present day or a century ago.

At times I didn’t really like the author and her attitude but I appreciated her honesty which I think was more a reflection of how young she really was. This is an exciting read that canters between the racing days where the story really does gallop along.

The race was a magnificent accomplishment and this account of the adventure of a lifetime another.

I wish to thank NetGalley for an e-copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly.


Lara Prior-Palmer

Lara Prior-Palmer made headlines in 2013 when she became the first woman — and the youngest ever competitor — to win the Mongol Derby. Born in London in 1994, Lara routinely packed and unpacked her bags as a child, despite having nowhere to go. She studied conceptual history and Persian at Stanford University, and has lived and loved, for varying lengths of time, in California, England, Iran and Wales. ROUGH MAGIC is her first book.


Twitter: @LaraPriorPalmer


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