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First Rider's Call
Kristen Britain
Earthlight, 639 pages

Keith Parkinson
First Rider's Call
Kristen Britain
Kristen Britain can be found in Maine paddling a canoe in stillwater, ambling through woods to mountain summits, or sitting along the rocky shore listening, watching, and daydreaming. Green Rider was her first novel.

Kristen Britain's Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Green Rider

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Cindy Lynn Speer

In this long awaited sequel to Kristen Britain's marvelous Green Rider, Karigan G'ladheon has returned to her former life. She has gotten good at ignoring the call, determined not to take up the mantle and name of Green Rider. The first Green Rider's ghost has other plans. Lil Ambriodhe wants this young woman to take up her destiny, now more than ever and she won't take no for an answer. Her determination sets Karigan back on the path, and a year later she and a delegation set off to meet with the Eletians, but on the way are attacked. During the attack, a Wraith frees himself from his ancient prison, and kills most of the party.

Elsewhere, Alton D'Yer (readers of the previous book may remember him as a love interest of Karigan's) is inspecting the D'yer wall, a wall of stone and magic meant to keep imprisoned the tainted wild magic of Blackveil forest. He is pushed through the breach in the wall, and trapped for a time, is poisoned by the vile darkness and horrible atmosphere of the place. He is tricked by a creature made to look like Karigan, and she teaches him a song that she says will heal the wall and does just the opposite. The magic that leaks out leaves nothing but horror in its path, unpredictable as a dark angel. Random people turn to stone, and the powers of the Green Riders become unreliable. The captain of the Green Riders is driven to near madness, and is forced to lock herself away.

There is a lot going on in First Rider's Call. The path to solving this problem lays through three distinct stories. Throughout the book, we have excerpts from the journal of Hadriax el Fex, who tells the story of a desperate journey of conquest, led by Alessandros del Morhavon. It's a sad story, as we watch through Hadriax's eyes as a decent person slowly crumbles into evil, and we feel for him as he struggles with what he has to do. Karigan, warned to keep away from Balckveil (she has a smidgen of the wild, tainted magic inside her, and would undo the wall complexly) instead finds herself journeying through time. This leaves the hands on fight to Altion.

Britain's style is very engaging. She deftly weaves the three stories, sometimes adding some humor (the first scene with Lil made me giggle) along with the drama. The idea is fairly fresh, and very well realized. Karigan is certainly a reluctant hero, and when you see what she has to go through, you have a hard time blaming her. I would be loathe to give up my soft, nice existence to daily risk my life but when she realizes there truly isn't anyone else, she willingly goes forward. The reasons for the tainted forest, and that random way its magic has of striking are scary and tragic. Of course, I have a particular soft spot for Lil. She has a fabulous personality, and I wouldn't mind seeing the next series about her.

First Rider's Call serves a lot of purpose for the series. It explains more about out heroine's genealogy, and explains and gives context to a lot of the world's history. While it, like its predecessor, is completely its own story, there are things left undone, so I think we can look forward to a next volume.

Copyright © 2003 Cindy Lynn Speer

Cindy Lynn Speer loves books so much that she's designed most of her life around them, both as a librarian and a writer. Her books aren't due out anywhere soon, but she's trying. You can find her site at

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