Ride, Greenie, ride!
Karigan G’ladheon, the daughter of a wealthy merchant, has been kicked out of school because she beat up the son of a nobleman. On her way home she crosses paths with a Green Rider, one of King Zachary’s messengers. The Rider has two black arrows in his back, but before he dies he coerces Karigan into promising to take a sealed message to the king. Reluctantly, Karigan sets out to fulfill her vow. Along the way she meets allies and enemies, fights battles with creatures out of nightmare, makes friends with a horse, and learns a bit about magic, and herself, too.
For years I’ve been planning to read Kristen Britain’s Green Rider, which was first published in 1998. I finally decided to take the plunge into this big fantasy epic when Penguin released it in audio a few weeks ago. Pleased with the story and the audio performance, I listened to the entire book in just a couple of days. Penguin Audio’s version of Green Rider is read by Ellen Archer, who was new for me. She has a pleasant voice and had no problem with the diversity and range of male and female voices in Green Rider. She is a good narrator for this series.
The world of GREEN RIDER feels real. In this first story we learn about some of its history, politics, myths, legendary heroes, and games. This is all done naturally and without extensive infodumps. The characters, too, are mostly well done, though the villains tend to be shallow and overtly evil. Karigan is not always likeable, but she’s a willful and spunky heroine who I hope will become less aloof as the series goes on. Karigan is supported by several characters that we can’t help but like, such as her father, the batty Berry sisters and their invisible servants, a few other Riders, and King Zachary himself. Oh, and the horse!
Britain creates a nice balance of tension and leisure in Green Rider. Though murder, treachery, and political intrigue abound, there are several sweet times, too. I foresaw many of the plot’s “surprises,” and the end of the magical battle at the climax of the novel was a bit silly, but that didn’t bother me. Mostly I enjoyed riding with Karigan and living in her world for a time. I will be happy to read book two, First Rider’s Call.
Green Rider is a nice choice if you’re in the mood for a traditional fantasy epic with some familiar elements used in a refreshing, but not revolutionary, way. Those who like Mercedes Lackey’s VALDEMAR series will be especially pleased.