Lara Prior-Palmer

Rough Magic
  • Rough Magic

  • SHORTLISTED FOR THE WILLIAM HILL PRIZE 2019

    'Such an addictive and likeable book...One of this year's best memoirs' The Telegraph

    'It’s the resistance to the obvious narratives that makes Rough Magic so appealing: the book undermines lazy women-in-the-wilderness tropes at every turn.' Sarah Moss, Guardian

    'A heroic tale beautifully told' TLS

    'Rough Magic is transporting, beguiling and terrifically entertaining' Daily Mail



    The Mongol Derby is the world’s toughest horse race. A feat of endurance across the vast Mongolian plains once traversed by the people of Genghis Khan, competitors ride 25 horses across a distance of 1000km. Many riders don’t make it to the finish line.

    In 2013 Lara Prior-Palmer – nineteen, underprepared but seeking the great unknown – decided to enter the race. Driven by her own restlessness, stubbornness, and a lifelong love of horses, she raced for seven days through extreme heat and terrifying storms, catching a few hours of sleep where she could at the homes of nomadic families. Battling bouts of illness and dehydration, exhaustion and bruising falls, she found she had nothing to lose, and tore through the field with her motley crew of horses. In one of the Derby’s most unexpected results, she became the youngest-ever champion and the first woman to win the race.

    A tale of adventure, fortitude and poetry, Rough Magic is the extraordinary story of one young woman’s encounter with oblivion, and herself.

Lara Prior-Palmer made headlines in 2013 when she became the first Briton - and the youngest-ever competitor overall - to win the Mongol Derby. Rough Magic is her first book.