On her long journey home from school after a fight which will surely lead to her expulsion, 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 when she reluctantly agrees, he makes her swear on his sword to complete his mission “for love of country.” As he bestows upon her the golden winged-horse brooch which is the symbol of his office, he whispers on his dying breath, “Beware the shadow man…”
Karigan’s promise changes her life forever. Pursued by unknown assassins, following a path only her horse seems to know, and accompanied by the silent specter of the original messenger, she herself becomes a legendary Green Rider. 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.
My rating is closer to 3.7 stars, in actuality. The book was very well written, with a captivating voice and a good plot. It carries a lot of similar characteristics to many other traditional fantasy books – a monarchy, an unlikely heroine, some magic, etc. While it wasn’t entirely fresh, the writing was very captivating, which turned it from a long slog to a memorable & comforting read.
My biggest con with this book, was its dragged out length. Technically, a lot could’ve been summarized as ‘she was chased, got scared, rode the horse, didn’t know what was flying, rode the horse, was chased, and then climax.’ It wasn’t draggy in a bad way, but it certainly didn’t add to the story. Overall, I still found it a captivating read despite the unnecessary length, which doesn’t usually happen, and the magic and swordplay were pretty good too, thus the 3.7 rating. I don’t reread many books, but I’ve happily reread this book more than once.
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