|Submitted by Helen Kerslake |
(Apr 10, 2005)
‘Green Rider’ tells the story of a young girl, Karigan, who must grow up and learn quickly from her experiences as she leaves the shelter of Selium and is thrust into the harsh reality of life outside her home province. She encounters a Green Rider bearing an important message for the King which will prove the difference between his life and death, however the messenger is murdered and dies at Karigan’s feet leaving her to pick up the task from where he left off. The book begins well, with the opening chapter setting the scene for the world which the story is based around, and learn of both the current dangers threatening the land as well as developing a sense of fear for dangers yet to come. Kristen Britain has an excellent writing style which draws you firmly into the world of her main character while remaining uncomplicated by flowery language, leaving you free to enjoy the story without battling with unnecessary wording. I particularly enjoyed how this book was a stand-alone story, unlike so many fantasy novels which only really exist as a series, because this meant that instead of having to incorporate a massive amount of background and history the author was able to plunge straight into the tale. The first half of the book is non-stop action, provides great entertainment and keeps the reader wanting to learn more. Halfway through the pace of events seems to slow down a bit, however the focus becomes characters and their motivations with several well-planned revelations coming to light.
My only criticism of Kristen Britain’s first novel is her tendency to be influenced by Tolkein’s ‘Lord of the Rings’. I became very aware of this when I was giving some friends a brief summary of the book and realised that the main points which I had chosen to serve as this description sounded exactly what happened in this earlier fantasy story. Britain redeems herself completely though during the last section of the book which was completely original and had some amazing ideas. The author obviously has a brilliant imagination and should not be afraid to venture into un-chartered waters rather than rehashing plots which have been done before.
The main character of this story is obviously Karigan and we spend a lot of time learning who she is, sharing her pain and happiness, as well as shifting between wishing we were her and being glad that we are not. There are numerous minor characters along her path which we meet and some interesting qualities found in many of them, but due to the length of the book I felt like we were merely scratching the surface of these characters and would have liked for the author to concentrate on just a couple of them in more detail, perhaps removing unnecessary meetings with people such as the Berry sisters who in my opinion did not offer enough to the story to warrant their inclusion.
Overall I loved this book as it was non-stop action and excitement minus the complications of other fantasies, which was a refreshing change for me. The way that magic is portrayed in ‘Green Rider’ is fresh and intriguing and I found myself believing completely in the powers demonstrated – it can be all too easy for a fiction writer to invent crazy abilities in their characters, but much harder to create new ones which remain plausible and flawless. Karigan was a highly spirited young girl to read about and I feel that readers of all ages could enjoy this book; the young as they imagine themselves as the main character, the older reader being able to look back and remember similar experiences in their own past or even revert to their former innocence and re-live their youth.