A clever study in absurdity, The Horses by William Lane is an unusual piece of Australian literature that unpacks notions of class, ideology, religion and education. Set in a boarding school on Sydney’s outskirts, the novel features young men who wear armour for uniforms (including helmets, breastplates and chain metal gloves), teachers who care more the school’s reputation and horses than its pupils, and school days that are marked more by equine-related activities than lessons.
As two school houses slide into the flooded creek, horses escape and turn savage, boys run wild at night, a plague of vermin breaks out and respected masters resign, a catastrophic ending seems imminent. Lane, however, is too sure of his subject to go all that way. Self-interest, tradition, prejudice and forgetfulness triumph among the regrouped band of masters. The institution, indifferent to those it purports to teach, save as they represent another series of family dynasties, survives. The Horses is an acrid satire, but a strange one in that Lane realises how untouched by satire, let alone scandal, such a place can be …this is a novel that revels in risks and delivers rewards of an altogether less conventional kind
Peter Pierce, The Australian, May 16 2015 http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/review/rod-joness-the-mothers-very-different-from-william-lanes-the-horses/story-fn9n8gph-1227353576239