October 06, 2011

First Rider's Call by Kristen Britain

Kristen Britain's fabulous story of the Green Riders continues in this second installment, First Rider's Call. As a recap (and possible spoiler if you haven't read the first book) we were introduced to Karigan, a young merchant's daughter who had been expelled from school for fighting. By a stroke of coincidence, or perhaps she was called, she encounters a Green Rider in the woods. He had been mortally wounded and asks that she take up his horse and deliver his message for him. The Green Riders are an elite messenger service for the king, who, with the help of their horse brooches can perform a bit of magic as well. Karigan takes on this dangerous task and manages to deliver the message despite many hardships. She also, after a fierce battled with a maddened Eletian (one of the other races in the world) helps restore King Zachary to the palace and defeat his evil brother who was trying to take over the kingdom. Done with the adventure, she returns home to become a merchant again, ignoring the call of the Riders.

Now in this book Karigan has returned to the riders. After the call had become to great and she was found riding in her nightgown to get back to the King, she decided she couldn't resist fate and became a Green Rider. One of her major duties was to head North in search of the Eletians but on the way her party accidentally unlocks a tomb that contains an evil wraith left over from when Mornhavon the Black ruled. Both the wraith and the entity known as Mornhavon want Karigan, but she has no idea why.

After coming back with what remains of their party, more bad news just topples on top of everything. The Rider's magic is failing and causing more trouble than before. Karigan is also seeing ghosts and seemingly traveling out of her time to another. Each time brings her closer to death but also helps fill in clues on what may be happening in her time as well. She also is having trouble with her emotions regarding the King. She knows that it is improper, but she can't help but think of him more than fondly. At all costs though, she must focus and keep the rider's together. The wall that is holding back Mornhavon is failing and if it falls, all will be lost.

In the first book I grew to admire the characters. Especially Karigan; she is a brave courageous person but still manages to get herself in embarrassing situations just like a normal person. However, in this book, all the characters just didn't seem as fleshed out. Their motivations were weaker and their personalities a little more subdued. They weren't terribly written, but neither were they as finely crafted as in the first book. The evil people didn't seem as terrible either and I didn't find them particularly menacing even though they should have been.

The writing was descriptive in regards to all but one thing. I can't for the life of me picture Karigan in my head. I know she's a young woman, I think she has brownish hair, but the author always describes her as looking like her mother who I don't ever recall reading a description of. I may just be missing it but one would expect the main character to be a little better described. The rest of the characters, luckily, are written well enough I have an idea of what they look like. This book doesn't have as much violence in it as the first one, but that's not to say there aren't some very vivid descriptions of death, because there is. Just be warned that there is some blood and guts in this tale.

I did like this book. I thought it was a fairly good continuance of the first story. It just didn't have the vivid realness the first one did. I look forward to the third one and hope that it regains some of its heart that it originally had. But overall, this was a great book for fantasy lovers.

First Rider's Call
Copyright 2003
596 pages

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