Published: April 2011 Gollancz (re-print)
On her journey home from school after a fight, Karigan G’ladheon ponders her future as she trudges through the immense forest called Green Cloak. But her thoughts are interrupted by the clattering of hooves as a galloping horse bursts from the woods, the rider slumped over his mount’s neck, impaled by two black-shafted arrows. As the young man lies dying on the road, he tells Karigan that he is a Green Rider, one of the legendary messengers of the king, and that he bears a “life and death” message for King Zachary. He begs Karigan to carry his message, warning her not to read it, and with his dying breath he whispers, “Beware the shadow man…” Karigan’s promise changes her life forever. Pursued by unknown assassins and following a path only her horse seems to know. Caught up in a world of deadly danger and complex magic, compelled by forces she cannot understand, Karigan is hounded by dark beings bent on seeing that the message, and its reluctant carrier, never reach their destination.
This is the beginning of a fantasy series with Riders who uses long lost magic and a kingdom on the brink of war. A good start is what I would say.
Karigan was a brave young woman who left her school cos she fought an aristocrat and she was only a merchant daughter. Not fair at all. When she then met the Rider she could have said no (of course the magic urged her on), but she wanted to do what was right and she also wanted an adventure. And that she sure got because on her journey she met funny old ladies, monsters, bandits, and saw the how angry the people in the north are. I liked her because even though it got tough she never gave up. Then we have the evil guys. The king’s brother wants the throne and the Grey Man uses magic to make people do his will. He is an evil killer and he has also made a crack in a wall that separates the badlands from the rest of the world. I liked the Grey Man, as much as one can like an evil guy. He was just a good bad guy. All evil and nothing at all to like about him.
The kingdom has lost its magic. There are still some magic left and the Green Riders uses some of it. I always do like when magic is lost and found again. And these Riders risk everything and still they are only seen as messengers, but they have a calling that they follow.
I have to say that there is a hint about romance. I truly mean a hint, one flutter in her heart, but I have hope for more in coming books.
A good start with likable heroine who says what she wants to say. There is adventure, wild rides, magic and a race to save a kingdom. I will read more to see what happens next and I do like a fantasy series with a fantasy heroine that feels down to earth. Not too tough, not soft, but still willing to do what is right.
I recommend this series to fantasy readers.