Opening line: ‘The granite was cold and rough against the grey-cloaked man’s palms. It was good, solid granite, from the bones of the earth itself. He traced hardly perceptible seams between the huge blocks of the wall. It was the seams, he believed, that held the key. The key to the wall’s destruction.’
Trouble is brewing in Sacoridia. The king’s brother plots in hiding. The wall that could never be broken, the wall separating Sacoridia from its evil, magical and corrupt neighbour, is breached. And a king’s messenger, one of the elite Green Riders, rides into the path of a schoolgirl, slumped over his horse with arrows in his back. With his dying breaths he entreats the girl to fulfil his mission, deliver his message, before it is too late. Karigan agrees, even as she is warned to ‘Beware the shadow man’…
And thus follows the adventure of Green Rider by Kristen Britain as Karigan races against all odds to get to Sacor City with the precious message. Hounded on every side, from assassins to brigands to monstrous beasts, as well as the Grey One himself, lost in the forests and plains of the kingdom, Karigan must use her own wit, strength, and stubborn will to survive.
It had been over a decade since I last read this book and I remembered only the basic premise of the novel. I vaguely recall that it was supposed to be a series, but since the subsequent books didn’t come out until after 2003, I forgot about it. A year or so ago, I saw the series, with their beautiful new UK covers, in a bookstore, and on a whim picked it up from the local library (yes, it was actually whim: it was on the shelf; I didn’t have to reserve it). The novel is far more action-packed than I remembered, filled with much more world-building detail and intrigue. I read it in a space of two days while I was in bed with a cold, and it was very diverting indeed. The magic at times reminded me of the Charter Magic in Garth Nix’s Sabriel books, but was also unpredictable, as magic should be. Of course, I could find things to criticise — is ‘defiant’ the only way to describe a wolf’s eyes?, Karigan would have been more traumatized by her assault by a mercenary, the Anti-Monarchy Society served no purpose in the plot, and so on — but overall, I was more pleasantly surprised by how rich the world of Sacoridia is, with its history and clans and how the country had changed over the centuries and how the architecture and politics and universities reflected these changed. I have already requested the next book in the series from my library.
If you enjoyed Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith, Sabriel by Garth Nix, and/or The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley, you most likely will also enjoy Green Rider by Kristen Britain.