First Rider's Call
(US edition: DAW Books, Canada $37.50 / US $24.95, 639 pages, hardback,
published 2003; ISBN: 0-7564-0209-3. UK: Earthlight, £10.99, 639 pages,
trade paperback, published 1 September 2003; Pocket Books, £6.99,
639 pages, paperback, this edition published 7 March 2005.)
Kristen Britain's second book takes up where the Green Rider, left off. Karigan G'ladheon, having discharged the
duty taken up with a dead man's magical brooch, has now returned to
her life as sub-chief of Clan G'ladheon. She likes being a merchant.
She's happy as a merchant. But the ghost of Lil Ambriodhe, the first
of the Green Riders, won't let it rest at that.
Old problems are coming to a head in Sacoridia. The D'Yer Wall which
protects them from evil magic is crumbling. The Green Riders dwindle
in number, too few recruits hearing the call to replace those lost in
the line of duty. The ancient enemy, Mornhavon, has begun to stir again.
So Karigan gives up the life she loves to heed the Call and become a
Green Rider in truth.
This book does a beautiful job of telling an old story in a new way
-- the epic battle between Good and Evil -- which is what high fantasy
is all about. What makes it special is how Britain manages to put a
unique face on everything. The characters are delightfully plausible
and well-developed, getting into each other's hair and hearts with about
as much grace as anyone you know. The Eletians are cool and enigmatic,
not quite the usual sort of elf but serving a similar purpose. The enchanted
brooches of the Green Riders, and other magical artifacts, are sometimes
subtle and sometimes dramatic; and each Rider has a particular talent
that ties into their own brooch, like Karigan's odd ability to fade
out of sight. Journal entries by Mornhavon's right-hand man, Hadriax
el Fex, make a haunting counterpoint to the narrative -- which weaves
past and present together in a dangerous dance. Britain creates a world
half-familiar, half-mysterious, and wholly compelling.
First Rider's Call will delight fantasy mavens of all kinds.
The slightly fey horses of the Green Riders give the story strong appeal
for equestrian folks as well. It will make more sense if you've read
Green Rider first, but this one still stands pretty well on its
own. Most highly recommended.
Review by Elizabeth Barrette.