October 06, 2011
Green Rider by Kristen Britain
Karigan has recently been expelled from school for fighting. Knowing she will be shamed in her father's eyes, she sets off not sure of what to do next. In the deep woods however she encounters a strange rider and his horse. He is dying, two black arrows embedded in his body, and he implores her to complete his task. He gives her his green coat, message satchel, a golden horse pin and mostly importantly of all, his horse and tells her to run. Having agreed to his bequest, she takes off on the horse into danger she's never encountered before. Though she hardly knows it, she has just taken up the duty of a King's Green Rider, magical messengers with uncanny abilities.
As Karigan rides she meets several different people. Kindly ladies who give her help and rest, evil men and creatures who want to kill her, followers of the King and not-so-followers of the King (there is a faction calling for no monarchy). In another part of the world too the King's scorned brother is planning revenge. She must deliver the message to the King at all costs but there are so many things going against her. Around every turn is danger and even if she reaches the King, who is to say that it will stop there? She has the magic of the Green Riders, but that may not even be enough.
Karigan is a wonderful heroine. She is brave but still has a touch of humility and is not so perfect as to be unbelievable. She has enough courage to face the odds and is really an inspiration as far as strong characters go. The bad guys are decidedly evil yet have human emotions as well which is refreshing. There were several times I found myself trying to skim as I had to find out what happened to Karigan and that she would be ok; it was wonderful to have such a connection to a character. I do have to say I often cheered for the horse too, he was one awesome horse and a great friend for Karigan on the journey.
Like with most fantasies it takes awhile to fully understand the world. Because it takes place in a different setting than Earth as we know it the names of cities and countries take some getting used to. Gradually though, Britain manages to make the reader have a reasonable clue of where and when they are. While most of the writing is unoffensive there is violence in this novel. It is not overdone but neither is it hidden either. My only complaint on the writing is that sometimes Britain left Karigan's tale and showed glimpses from the bad guy's view or her father's. While it was important to the plot it was somewhat distracting and broke the flow of the story.
A great fantasy novel I am certainly looking forward to the next in the series. Britain manages to weave a spell of magic not only in her book but also around the reader as well.