Karigan G’ladheon is at a crossroads in her young life. Suspended unjustly from the university where she was studying, she rashly decides to return home rather than await judgement. It’s on the way home she finds her destiny waiting for her, in the form of one of the King’s Green Riders, dying on the side of the road, having been shot by two sinister black arrows. F’ryan Coblebay begs her to take up his burden and carry his message to the King in Sacor City for it was a matter of life and death. What message could be so important that it means one of the legendary messenger’s trusting a stranger on the road and begging for her help, even as he lies dying?
I first read Green Rider in about 2002 and have read it a couple of times since. Having the third book unread on my shelf prompted me to pick it up again recently, remembering what a wonderful fantasy story it was.
Kristen Britain creates a vivid and well realised world for her characters to live in and then populates it with people you not only love, but get exasperated with, want to smack and who also make you laugh. The evil and the selfish characters are also well written, sometimes hidden amongst the good and at times you are kept guessing as to their true natures. The battles and violent scenes can be stark, brutal and at times incredibly sad, but I thought they were entirely appropriate for the setting.
One of the things I enjoyed most about it was that it led me back to my love of epic fantasy. I love all the genres I read, but with the amount of urban fantasy and paranormal romance I’ve read recently, the romantic scenes in Green Rider seemed gentle. It reminded me of Guy Gavriel Kay, David Eddings, Gail Z. Martin where some acts were alluded to rather than laid out in descriptive glory (and don’t get me wrong, I love that too but this approach also has a special place in my heart).
The story is gripping and the history built around it is superb. The actions of a madman and the solution used to stop his reign of terror now dwell in the depths of history, a thousand years ago. Memories of that time have now fallen to legend and result in complacency, which I found all too realistic. Now those safeguards are failing and it takes the ingenuity and heroism of a few remarkable individuals to bring that danger to light. Karigan is landed in the middle of it all and the snarkiness and spark that Britain gives her, makes her a heroine to love (and get fondly exasperated with).
I highly recommend this to anyone who loves a good epic fantasy that breaks out of the usual mould.