Sarah Tolmie Explores the Past From Horseback in All the Horses of Iceland

Tordotcom Publishing is thrilled to announce the next novella from Sarah Tolmie, Aurora and Rhysling award-winning poet and author of The Fourth Island. All the Horses of Iceland is a compact historical saga that traces the imagined descent of the Icelandic horses along a Viking trade route, melding folkloric and magical traditions along the way.

Everyone knows of the horses of Iceland—wild, and small, and free—but no one really knows their story. All the Horses of Iceland weaves the myth of their origin, a myth that follows one Icelander across the steppes, and unfolds with a ghostly magic that transcends the borders between civilizations.

Said author Sarah Tolmie:

I am delighted to be publishing another book with Tordorcom. This one, like the previous one, is the result of travel (now a fond memory from before COVID-19). Attending the Iceland Writers Conference in 2018, I got the opportunity to ride an Icelandic horse across Icelandic terrain. It was pretty memorable. All the Horses of Iceland began with that experience, but the story idea dropped into my mind almost two years later, at a single remark in a nature documentary that mentioned the descent of the Icelandic horse from the Mongolian horse of the central Asian steppe. As a medievalist I realized that it would primarily have happened along the Volga trade route during the ninth century. So I imagined an origin story for the breed in the journey of a single mare all the way from Mongolia through Khazaria and Kievan Rus into Scandinavia and finally to Iceland. It is a wonder tale full of ghosts but also, in its way, a family saga. It brings together two of my abiding passions: horses and the magical power of the written word.

Said editor Carl Engle-Laird:

Working with Sarah Tolmie is always a delight. She uses her transcendent prose to paint gorgeous landscapes, and with every turn of phrase captures a restrained but heartbreaking emotion that catches me by surprise. With this novella, that gift for language transported me to Khazaria, a fascinating khaganate where Tengrism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam co-mingled and co-existed. I’ve been intrigued by Khazaria for years, and experiencing Atil through Tolmie’s writing was an unexpected delight. And that’s just one delightful element of All the Horses of Iceland; don’t get me started on the ponies.

All the Horses of Iceland will be available in trade paperback and ebook from Tordotcom Publishing in 2022.


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