The Horse-Tamer's Daughter (filksong)

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Song Title: The Horse-Tamer's Daughter
Composer: Leslie Fish
Lyrics: Leslie Fish
Melody: original
Date: 1983
Subject: Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover
Other: audio cassette
External Links:

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The Horse-Tamer's Daughter is a filksong by Leslie Fish (copyright 1983). It was the title song of the printed filksong collection by the same name, The Horse-Tamer's Daughter, edited by Teri Lee and published by Off Centaur Publications in 1984.[1]

The song is set on Marion Zimmer Bradley's world of Darkover, during the "Ages of Chaos" after the fall of Hali Tower where some of the psychic-sorcerer leroni were formerly trained. It's from the point of view of a young woman who has a psychic link with horses; while playing near the ruined tower, she finds a "magic mirror" that enhances her range and power, much to her delight. This brings her to the attention of leroni from other Towers, who insist she must submit to them for training. She fights them, linking her mind with those of several horses, and using their combined strength to keep her freedom.

Marion Zimmer Bradley is rumoured to have disliked the song, because it claims that the peasants of Darkover were sometimes unhappy with the requirement to send all people with psychic gifts (laran) to a Tower for training. The leroni insist that an untrained telepath is a danger to self and others, and Bradley may have believed this was obvious to everyone. Although some highborn families would rather not send valuable heirs to the Towers (leroni don't marry), peasants would presumably all be happy with the raise in status and not mind the restrictions and disciplines required of Tower life.

"The Horse-Tamer's Daughter" won a Ohio Valley Filk Fest Pegasus Award in 2002, in the category Best Song That Tells A Story; in 1999, it had been nominated for Best Hero Song.[2] It has 15 verses and a chorus (which is usually only sung in a few spots, instead of after every verse); the version on the album is more than 13 minutes long.

David Weingart's 1994 filksong Filk Up Your Voices includes the lines

''But we're tired of lugging lyrics and we're tired of some songs
And so we scream "Horsetamer's Daughter" is a hundred times too long''[3]

Heather Stern wrote that the tune of "The Horse-Tamer's Daughter" "is good but the original lyrics were ... unpopular. 22 verses and not quite canon attitude towards Darkover."[4] She created an autobiographical filksong "The Programmer's Daughter" to the tune.[5]

Damien Sullivan wrote a parody extension of "The Horse-Tamer's Daughter".[6]

A parody called "Like Comyn to the Slaughter," by Harold Feld, was included in Xenofilkia 16.[7] It put the events of Horse Tamer's Daughter to the tune of Frank Hayes' "Like a Lamb to the Slaughter," a condensed talking-blues version of Mattie Groves, a tradition Scottish ballad. "Like Comyn..." mocks the length of the original by ending with the lines,

Be good;
If you can't be good, be careful;
And if you can't be careful, try to keep it down to five or six verses.

Fan Comments

I actually quite like Horsetamer’s Daughter– maybe due to having encountered it at an impressionable age. But not being a Darkover reader, I listened to it for years before I made the connection to that series. I think it’s essentially musical fanfic set in Darkover rather than being tied to an extant story, though I’m open to correction. (And with Darkover, the line is pretty fuzzy in any case.) [8]

External links


  1. ^ The Horse-Tamer's Daughter in The M.A.S.S. F.I.L.C. Filk Book Index. Last modified November 25, 2006. Accessed September 30, 2008.
  2. ^ Pegasus Awards - Horsetamer's Daughter. Accessed September 30, 2008.
  3. ^ Accessed September 30, 2008.
  4. ^ Accessed September 30, 2008.
  5. ^ Accessed September 30, 2008.
  6. ^ linked to from Damien Sullivan's filk page. January 5, 2005. Accessed September 30, 2008.
  7. ^ Accessed September 30, 2008
  8. ^ Recent listening: Julia Ecklar, December 2013