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A book series by Walter Farley beloved by little girls everywhere. The first books deal with Alec and the Black, a half-wild Arabian stallion he comes across while on a cruise. When the ship crashes, Alec and the Black are stranded together on a desert island. He builds a bond with the horse, and both are eventually rescued and returned to New York. Home again, Alec meets up with an old racehorse trainer and convinces the man to train him and the Black. They then enter a match race as a wild card between a champion of the West Coast and a champion of the East. Obviously, they win.

The second book details Black's real owners stepping forward to claim him, and Alec has to venture back to Arabia to stake his claim on his favorite horse. Other books follow the exploits of the Black's son Satan and his other foals. The Black himself is still the main character throughout most of the series.

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The first two books were adapted into movies, The Black Stallion (1979) and The Black Stallion Returns (1983), both of which were produced by Francis Ford Coppola. The twentieth and final book, a prequel, became a Disney IMAX film, The Young Black Stallion (2003).

    Novels in the series 
  1. The Black Stallion (1941)
  2. The Black Stallion Returns (1945)
  3. Son of the Black Stallion (1947)
  4. The Island Stallion (1948)
  5. The Black Stallion and Satan (1949)
  6. The Blood Bay Colt (1951)
  7. The Island Stallion's Fury (1951)
  8. The Black Stallion's Filly (1952)
  9. The Black Stallion Revolts (1953)
  10. The Black Stallion's Sulky Colt (1954)
  11. The Island Stallion Races (1955)
  12. The Black Stallion's Courage (1956)
  13. The Black Stallion Mystery (1957)
  14. The Horse Tamer (1958)
  15. The Black Stallion and Flame (1960)
  16. The Black Stallion Challenged (1964)
  17. The Black Stallion's Ghost (1969)
  18. The Black Stallion and the Girl (1971)
  19. The Black Stallion Legend (1983)
  20. Young Black Stallion (with Stephen Farley, 1989)

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The series provides examples of:

  • A Boy and His X: The premise of the whole series. The boy is sometimes a girl, but the X is always a horse.
  • Accidental Athlete: Alec, fortuitously, stays small so he can be the Black's jockey. Later books call attention to how hard it is for him and other jockeys to stay under the maximum weight.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Azul Island has a population of horses which have been inbreeding for centuries with no ill effects. Farley hand-waves this by saying that they had good genes from the start... and at any rate, we do see one 'mutant' stallion who poses a threat to the entire herd when he ousts Flame.
  • Artistic License – Sports: As noted under Society Marches On, the world of horse racing in these books bears almost no resemblance to horse racing today. The one violation of the rules which the books acknowledge and deal with is the Black racing against Cyclone and Sun Raider in the first book — since it's just a match race (not sponsored by a racing association), the Black can enter even without a known pedigree. A local newsman helps things along by spreading rumors of a "mystery horse" who could beat them both, raising interest to the point where the Black is invited.
  • Automaton Horses: Averted. Farley does a good job of describing day to day care of the animals.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: As Alec gives The Black some sugar cubes, it becomes more tolerant of him, later saving his life from a cobra.
  • Big Race: The climax of nearly every book. The Black always wins, of course.
  • Bond Creatures: Of a very mild sort — only Alec can handle the Black and only Steve can handle Flame.
  • Bus Crash: Pam, the title character of The Black Stallion and the Girl, dies offscreen in the next book. For bonus points, it actually was a bus crash.
  • Crossover: Once Flame enters the scene in The Island Stallion, it's inevitable that the two central stallions will face off. They meet twice, in The Black Stallion and Flame and The Black Stallion Challenged.
  • Cool Horse: The Black, naturally, but also his children (Black Minx, Bonfire, Satan) and his main rival (Flame).
  • Coming-of-Age Story: Alec grows from a young kid to a veteran jockey to the competent manager of a Thoroughbred farm over the course of the series.
  • Death by Adaptation: Alec's father, an important supporting character in the books (especially Son of the Black Stallion), is inserted onto the ship at the start of the film version of The Black Stallion in order to die in the shipwreck.
  • Deserted Island: The refuge of Alec after the shipwreck in the first book. Azul Island is also uninhabited, but Steve and an archaeologist friend find evidence that it used to be a fortress.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Steve knows Flame will be on Azul Island because he had a dream of seeing a red stallion on a cliff. Subverted when his friend Pitch informs him that he'd seen pictures of that cliff before and must have made it up; double-subverted when Steve really does see Flame there. (See Real Life Writes the Plot, below).
  • A Dog Named "Dog": The black stallion's only name is "the Black." (Later books reveal his given name to be Shetan).
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence: Tom Pitcher's attempts to "tame" (read: brutalize and break) Flame.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Pam is a gentle soul who attracts and controls animals through her kindness.
  • Genre Shift: Farley departed from his normal horse-and-his-boy story and wrote mysteries and even a horror novel within the series
    • Heck, to full-on sci-fi in The Island Stallion Races. To get himself and his horse to the mainland and into a race to save the island, Steve gets help from race-loving aliens. No, seriously. May be a symptom of Creator Breakdown as the books just got progressively stranger after that.
  • Heroic BSoD: Alec suffers a breakdown in The Black Stallion Revolts after learning of Pam's death. He then has a car accident and gets a concussion in the process, which only makes things worse.
  • Horsing Around: The Black is decidedly feral, and the books make it plain that his erratic behavior is potentially dangerous to everyone, including Alec. Played straighter with Black Minx, who was spoiled as a filly and tends to bite — a lot of Henry's time goes into retraining her.
  • I Should Write a Book About This: Steve Duncan tells Alec he'll write a book about his discovery of Azul Island and Flame. Alec suggests he call it The Island Stallion.
  • Invincible Hero: The Black almost never loses. Justified, since the Black is half-Arabian and Arabian horses are specifically bred for speed and endurance. Nowadays Arabians and part-Arabs are only allowed to race other Arabians.note  There's also the fact that his non-Arab half is possibly mystical and/or aliens. No, seriously. The Black loses once due to a technicality, despite crossing the finish line first (he broke from Alec's control and bumped other horses, causing him to be placed lower due to interference). In another case, the Black loses when Alec throws the race, choosing to help another rider whose saddle slipped, saving his life, instead of finishing the race.
  • Later Installment Weirdness: The book starts as a fairly realistic albeit dramatic children's adventure: boy rescues and tames a beautiful wild horse and rides it to fame and glory. It ends with the reveal that the horse is probably an alien hybrid and that extraterrestrials have been guiding both the horse and the boy.
  • Miracle Rally: Several races end with the Black (or the focus horse of that title) overcoming a bad start or aggressive race riding to get up in the final strides.
  • Mythical Motifs: From the first movie, but not in the original novel; Alec's father tells Alec about the legend of Bucephalus, a magnificent stallion who was to be put to death by a king after the king was unable to claim the horse for himself. The horse's life was spared when a young boy claimed that he could tame and ride the wild stallion, and the king declared that if the boy could do that, he could keep the horse for himself. The boy, who would grow up to become Alexander the Great, proceeded to do just that. The similarities between Alexander and Bucephalus, and Alec and The Black, are hard to ignore.
  • Old Master: Henry, who is an old racehorse trainer; when Alec has a bad fall in the third book, Henry proves he still has what it takes to climb into the saddle, though his techniques aren't always friendly.
  • Only the Chosen May Ride: The Black, Flame, and to a lesser extent Satan won't let most riders on their backs.
  • Opening Narration: the film version of The Black Stallion Returns has a brief one, provided by Hoyt Axton, who played Alec's father in the first movie.
  • Prequel: The Young Black Stallion.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Farley first came up with the idea of Flame while under anesthesia for an ear operation.
  • Setting Update: The first book was published in 1941. The 1979 film version moves the setting forward slightly to 1946, presumably to maintain the time period while avoiding interference from World War II. Despite featuring Mickey Rooney reprising his movie role as Henry Dailey, the TV series dropped the 1940s setting entirely in favor of the contemporary 1990s. The prequel film The Young Black Stallion restores the 1940s setting.
  • Silence Is Golden: The island sequence has no dialogue.
  • Society Marches On: The books were largely written in the 50s, and hoo boy, does it show.
    • Racism and sexism are blatantly on display, particularly in The Black Stallion and the Girl.
    • The Black — never implied to be anything but full Arabian — is not only allowed to race in Thoroughbred circuits but to be a registered sire whose offspring are also considered Thoroughbreds.
    • In The Black Stallion's Filly, Henry buys the two-year-old Black Minx at a bargain price because the audience can't be bothered with a spoiled filly who can't race. Buying her as a broodmare prospect never once occurs to anyone.
    • In the same book, she gets into the Kentucky Derby starting gate with no earnings (she has raced twice and not finished either time). Horses today need to earn a certain amount of winnings in specified stakes races to enter the Derby.
    • In the next book, she is retired from racing uninjured, having apparently lost interest after falling in love (?!) with one of her rivals. Purchasing said horse becomes a burden on Alec's new farm instead of, say, a chance to stand another good sire.
    • In The Black Stallion's Blood Bay Colt, an elderly trainer is packed off semi-voluntarily for several weeks of "rest cure." Harness racing at night under lights, with a mobile starting gate, is seen as new and controversial among established trainers.
  • Spin-Offspring: Several books center on the Black's sons and daughters, including Satan, Bonfire, and Black Minx.
  • Worthy Opponent: Flame to the Black. They are effectively equal; their one official race (on the Black's preferred dirt, not Flame's turf) ends in a photo finish which the Black takes by "the thinnest fraction of a nose."

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