Megiddo's Shadow

Megiddo's Shadow

by Arthur Slade


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"That's the city of Megiddo. Armageddon will begin on the plains below."
"Maybe it just did," Cheevers said.

"Speed is armor. Remember that, Edward. The faster we ride the harder we are to hit."

Fueled by anger at the death of his brother in World War I, sixteen year old Edward enlists and abandons his father and their farm in Canada for England. After proving that he can tame any wild horse, he's sent to Palestine to battle the Turks. A trooper's horse is the key to life and death in a cavalry charge: luckily, Edward has the extraordinary Buke, his true companion. He also has tender letters from Emily, a nurse, and the camaraderie of his tent mates. As he closes in on the enemy, Edward finds that the noble vengeance he seeks is replaced by the horror of battle and the realization that he must fight not only to survive, but also, to kill.

" is a powerful book that needs to be read."
School Library Journal, Starred Review
"Megiddo's Shadow is a brilliant novel. Slade has crafted a story that is both timeless and contemporary, reminding us once again how easily young men march off to war and how easily those wars start."
David Gill, ALAN website.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385747011
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
Publication date: 10/10/2006
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.05(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Arthur Slade was raised on a ranch in the Cypress Hills of Saskatchewan. He is the author of seventeen novels for young readers including The Hunchback Assignments, which won the prestigious TD Canadian Children's Literature Award and Dust, winner of the Governor General's Award for Children's Literature. He lives in Saskatoon, Canada. Visit him online at

Read an Excerpt

Megiddo's Shadow

By Arthur Slade

Wendy Lamb Books

Copyright © 2006 Arthur Slade
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0385909454

Book One

Oh! we don't want to lose you

But we think you ought to go,

For your King and your Country

Both need you so.

We shall want you and miss you,

But with all our might and main

We shall cheer you, thank you, kiss you

When you come home again.

"Your King and Country Want You" Lyrics by Paul Rubens


The letter was stained with mud from France, but there was a British army stamp in the corner, and the handwriting looked fancy and official. Maybe Hector had won a medal! He'd finally given the Huns a good, hard punch on the nose.

I left the general store, nearly tripping on the sidewalk planks as I searched the envelope for clues about its contents. I wanted to rip it open, but it had been addressed to Dad. My breath turned to frost in the October air. Hector must've jumped out of the trenches and taken a machine-gun nest, or perhaps he'd captured a bunch of Germans. He'd joined up in 1916, so he'd been over there for more than a year; lots of time to do something heroic. I jogged the half mile to our farm, watching for our white and green house to appear on the other side of the hill, with the rolling prairie spread out beyond it.

Maybe Hector would be getting a Victoria Cross pinned to his chest. He would make the papers all across Canada.

I stopped in my tracks. I fingered the thin envelope, mymouth dry. What if it's not a medal. What if . . . I wouldn't let myself think the words.

If he'd fallen in France I'd surely have felt something deep in my heart, even thousands of miles away here in Saskatchewan.

Such dark thoughts had made my legs numb. I leaned against our sign that said bathe family farm. Father had carved it to put a name to the fields he'd cut out of the prairie. Land he intended to pass on to us boys.

No Hun bullet would ever kill Hector, but perhaps he'd been so badly wounded that he couldn't even pick up a pen.

My hand shook as I flicked open my pocketknife and slit the envelope. I'd tell Dad I just couldn't wait to read the good news.

I scanned the first few lines.

R.S. Major 27/09/17 15th Canadian Batt B.E.F.

Dear Mr. Wilfred Bathe,

You will no doubt wonder who this is writing to you. I will try to explain as well as I can; I am the regimental sergeant major of the above battalion. I have a very painful duty to perform in--

My heart stopped. It wasn't just a "painful duty," but a "very painful duty," and I knew what had to follow. I sucked in a rattling breath. And another. Oh, God. Oh, no.

I forced myself to move toward the house. It was an eternity before I got there. I opened the door, the squeaking hinge unusually loud. I passed through the empty hall and up the worn stairs, glancing at the Union Jack that hung on the wall. I pulled myself up with the rail. I'd gone from sixteen to a hundred years old.

At the top of the landing I stopped to wipe my icy, sweaty palms on my overalls. I glanced at the oval photograph of Dad in his dragoons uniform, medals from the South African war glittering on his chest. Hung next to him was the picture of Mother in her Sunday best, and the thought of her made my legs go weak. It was a blessing God had taken her; today would have broken Mom's heart. Beside her was a photograph of Hector and me, when he was fourteen and I was twelve. I looked away and tried to swallow the lump in my throat.

Maybe he'd just been terribly wounded, his bright green eyes blinded by gas. That was why he couldn't write. Or perhaps his arm had been blown off. If so, when he got home he would still be able to fork hay with one hand. I'd help him. I would.

I knocked and entered the master bedroom. The stink of pee and old sweat hung in the air, a sign of how weak Dad was now. He lay sleeping, sheets pulled up to his neck, cheekbones sticking out of his long, pale face as though he were starving. His once proud and bushy mustache was limp and stringy.

I sat on the wooden chair and waited, my hands still trembling. Dad had been bedridden for seven months, leaving me to seed, harvest, and do the chores. In March, on the anniversary of Mom's death, he stayed in bed all day, as prickly as a cactus. He didn't get up the next day, or the next. In fact, he didn't get up at all. He gave up on everything. The man I'd seen flip and pin a calf in a heartbeat couldn't even pull himself out of bed.

It wasn't the first time he'd been bedridden. Once or twice a year he'd go all dour and stay in bed. Mom would give him a day or two before she grabbed his work clothes and boots and goaded him to his feet. After her funeral he spent three days in bed. On the fourth day Hector set Dad's work clothes and boots on the end of the bed. Dad was out to the barn within an hour, not saying a word.

This time, I'd tried the same trick after the first week, but no luck. When it came to Dad, Hector had the magic touch; it'd always been that way. All I could do was call Dr. Fusil, an old man with sharp eyes. This was, of course, against Father's wishes.

"Wilfred's body is fine," Dr. Fusil said out on the front porch after the visit. He slowly pulled on his coat. "His mind, though, is troubled. If his condition worsens and he refuses all food and water, there's a sanitarium in Regina I could recommend. That'd leave you with a heavy load, though."

I'm already doing all the work! I felt like shouting. But instead, I only shrugged, and the doctor putted away in his Model T.

Now, I sat back in the chair, making it creak.

"What's in your hand, Edward?" Father asked.

His gray eyes searched mine. I could see every long day he'd worked.

"It's a letter from Hector's major."

From the Hardcover edition.


Excerpted from Megiddo's Shadow by Arthur Slade Copyright © 2006 by Arthur Slade. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Megiddo's Shadow 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
JRlibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
16 year old Edward Bathe feels he needs to join the Great War after his brother is killed in battle by the Germans. Edward is given horse training duty in England where he meets and falls in love with Emily, a young nurse. Edward and his horse, Buke join a mounted regiment and get shipped to Palestine to fight the Turks. He finds out Emily dies, his horse is shot, he is considered a hero, and he regrets killing a young soldier, all in the last section of the book, which is the best part.
jensha on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
young boy enlists illegally to go and fight after older brother killed in WWI, works with horses and eventually makes his way to the war in Palestine; beautiful description; bit of a hokey romance; fresh look at WWI fighting; exciting action, some gore
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the best