Thursday, November 3, 2016

Green Rider, by Kristen Britain

This week I'm taking a look at the first book in a series recommended to me by a friend, although she has strongly suggested that I only read the first three books in this series because, in her opinion, they rapidly go downhill from there. But considering how many other things I've reviewed on this blog, I'm willing to give a wide range of things a read. So without further ado, Green Rider by Kristen Britain, the first of the Green Rider series.

The plot follows Karigan G'ladheon, the only daughter and heir of the prominent merchant clan G'ladheon who has just been suspended from school. Karigan has decided to head back home on her own and has started the journey through the Green Cloak forest. Not very far into her journey, Karigan runs into a dying Green Rider, a member of the king's own elite messenger corps with an absolutely vital message for King Zachary. Being the only person in the vicinity, the Green Rider recruits Karigan to deliver the message and entrusts her with his brooch, sword, and horse. Karigan soon finds herself in a far greater adventure than she could have ever imagined with the fate of the entire kingdom at stake.

Generally speaking this feels like a lot of fantasy books I've read and fits into the mold. That being said, it's a mold that is extremely popular and I feel Britain manages to make the story work a lot better than some of the stuff I've made myself read before. I at least wasn't rolling my eyes the entire time or wondering where details that hadn't been mentioned before had wandered into the book. I will admit that Karigan is giving off a pretty strong Chosen One vibe, and I have mixed feelings about Chosen Ones so that may be affecting my perception of the story. However, Karrigan does have some redeeming qualities like spunk and standing up to bullies of all sorts, which makes her an enjoyable Chosen One, if I am correct in assuming she's the Chosen One.

I do have some other concerns about the books which kept me from fully enjoying it. Foremost, I felt like Karigan wasn't really in control during the book and I wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Especially in the first half of the book she seemed to stumble from one crisis to the other and got rescued mostly by the coincidence of friendly people being in the area. On the one hand, it's kind of frustrating because it feels like she's just stumbling around and is only making progress because of fortuitous circumstance. On the other hand, Karigan's only a teenager so it feels appropriate for her to be only marginally competent and have to rely on a lot of help. So, as I said, I'm not sure if it's a good thing or a bad thing.

Another thing that bothers me is how much Karigan is refusing the call through the book. And is still refusing it by the end. On the odd chance none of you are familiar with it, the Call to Adventure is something, whether a person or an event which breaks the status quo of the heroine's life and forces her to undertake the quest of the story. Sometimes the heroine jumps at the opportunity, eager to break out of her humdrum existence. Other times she is far more reluctant and may initially refuse the call, such as Luke Skywalker's protest that he can't get involved. (More often than not something comes along to prove the heroin must get involved.) Throughout the whole book Karigan protests that she's not a Green Rider. This is despite her agreeing to carry the message to the king, having turned down countless opportunities to give up, and remaining involved well past the point she had no further obligation and could have walked away. By the end of the book Karigan is still protesting that she's not a Green Rider and will never be involved again. Although the reader, like pretty much everyone else in the book, knows this simply isn't the case and Karigan will be back in the center of things. I kind of just want to shout at her that the Call knows where she lives and she can't avoid it, but I have a feeling that would be utterly ineffective.

Overall, this book's okay despite my reservations. As I think about it, it's much better than some of the first fantasy novels of various series I've looked at and had absolutely no desire to continue reading. I will admit some of the appeal is because a friend suggested this to me, but it's pretty good. I'm actually looking forward to the prospect of reading more in this series.

- Kalpar

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