NOTE: Released in 1998, the first story of Karigan G’ladheon has since spawned three more books with the latest, Blackveil, released in February 2011
Warning: May contain spoilers!
Green Rider is considerably better than the last book I read and reviewed, Vengeance by Ian Irvine. The debut novel by Kristen Britain written more than a decade ago tells the story of Karigan G’ladheon, a runaway school girl who gets caught up in the events of a plot to overthrow the King of Sacoridia. She is pursued by those desperate to keep the conspiracy a secret after making a promise to a dying Green Rider to deliver a message of great importance.
The story bounces between the points of view of several other characters, but Karigan is indeed the main character of the story and most of the focus is on her. Most of the character development of Karigan is through her evasion of danger and getting out of tight spots. There are points in the story where things seemed out of sorts. Unfortunately, one of these points is near the beginning when Karigan stumbles upon the Berry Sisters. The whole encounter seems to have just been placed into the story and dropped out of thin air to land with a thud. The impression I was left with was that the entire chance meeting was a tedious way of discussing some back-story elements, particularly concerning the nature of the world’s magic as well as provide convenient and simplistic ways to help Karigan escape from danger later on. The entire episode left me drained in a manner than was reminiscent of Karigan after using her broach for its power of invisibility. It gave me a good reference point to draw on to sympathize with the main character at those points.
I honestly almost did not push on with reading the story because of this point. But I did. The story gets better as it moves on through a myriad of dangers Karigan faces to complete her quest as well as her struggle with not wanting to be the Green Rider everyone else seems to think she is or should be. The story borders on Karigan escaping from too many unlucky situations however, but it does tread the line just enough to not become wholly unbelievable. Some things like the however Anti-Monarchy Society seem to be just thrown in as filler and are dwelled upon too much for their minor role in my opinion. Also, the story seems to drift a little towards the end, especially during the final battle with the symbolism of a board game that makes its appearance several times throughout the book. Although there are quiet a few pleasant twists. Even if some of the foreshaddowing as to where the author wants to go is not all that subtle.
If you want to read a typical coming of age fantasy story with some unique elements and a hero struggling to come to grips with her inescapable fate, Green Rider could be up your alley. The plot is certainly believable enough. I give Green Rider three and a half stars.