Green Rider Series Guest Review: Blackveil

Blackveil cover artKristen Britain’s fourth Green Rider novel, Blackveil, came out February 1. Having now read through it I am extremely happy to have gotten a new novel. Before I get started though, a blurb:

Viewings at a masquerade ball celebration before the King’s wedding give us glimpses of events that may have a huge impact on Sacoridia. Karigan gets sent to Blackveil on a joint Eletian and Sacoridian expedition. Alton meets Karigan’s best friend and minstrel, Estral, and they start making progress on fixing the D’Yer wall. Meanwhile, the Second Empire’s leaders continue to do their utmost to bring about the downfall of Sacoridia.

The High King’s Tomb also introduced Lord Amberhill to us, and he plays an interesting, almost bit part in this novel. I have a feeling he’s going to turn out a big part of this story in the end, but I don’t currently know just how big. He also makes some rather unfortunate decisions in his stint throughout these couple novels.

I also feel I’ve got a bit of a handle on Karigan. She’s bad at relationships. Just about any of them. I can think of only two times when her bad assumptions are not her fault. And she’s decidedly selfish when it comes to some of these things. I know she’s a stubborn girl, but seriously, when you already know you’re lonely, why in the world would you push away your closest friends? That loneliness is part of why I think she makes those bad decisions, but I guess if she made all the right ones all the time, she’d be a less interesting character. I do wish she’d make better decisions at least on occasion! At least she and Stevic made up at the beginning of this one! 😀 Also, Stevic was finally back in the book! 😉

Another thing I’ve noticed is that Karigan herself seems to be the deus ex machina of these books. I think most of the things she’s done as such have been explained (which I suppose makes her not much of an actual deus ex machina), but I wish we could see more of her out of the box thinking and skills saving the day instead of who she is being the Big Thing.

And the ending. I don’t know if it’s come across in my collection of posts, but endings really help make a book for me. They’re extremely important in making a book feel like a finished product, in particular when the author only comes out with a book once every 4 years or so. (Seriously, 1998, 2003, 2007, and now 2011.) This is the first time I’ve been disappointed. Matter of fact, I very much liked the way the other books ended. Don’t get me wrong, there’s an ending, and even a good one for some of the characters (with high hopes and potential drama insinuated for the next book in those endings), but the very end of Blackveil, with the likelihood of it being another 4 years till the next book definitely leaves something to be desired.

All that being said, I really enjoyed this book! So many things happen (Estora gets to be a badass), and it seems that the world might start being a somewhat less dark place than it seemed in the last couple, though I’m sure there are still many dire straights left in store for our favorite Sacoridians, and I can’t wait until I get to read of their continued exploits! (Please, please let it be less than 4 years.)

Green Rider Series Re-Read: Guest Review of The High King’s Tomb

The High King's Tomb cover art

I have to admit The High King’s Tomb, book 3 of Kristen Britain’s Green Rider series, is not my favorite of the three I’ve read so far. For example, again with only the mentions with Stevic G’ladheon. Also, Karigan actually gets a bit whiny in the first half of this book, where as I specifically mentioned she doesn’t get there for me in the other books. However, as usual she’s too busy to be whiny in most of the second half! 😉

The blurb:

Karigan and a Green Rider trainee are sent on what seem to be mundane errands for the king of Sacoridia and Captain Mapstone, and which end up being anything but. Attempts to mend the breach in the D’Yer Wall continue. And the Second Empire continues its no longer secret attempts to overthrow Sacoridia for their ancient leader, Mornhavon the Black. Britain keeps the excitement high from beginning to end, balancing epic magical craziness with the humor and camaraderie of Karigan and her fellow riders.

This novel starts out much more sedately than the first two books, which is actually something I quite like. I like to read about “normal” in these long series. The first couple books were separated by two years, but it wasn’t something that the reader actually gets to experience.

I think I’ve figured out why this novel isn’t sitting the same with me as the first two. The villainess introduced in this book has a mission. She also has a side mission. A huge, horrible side mission that potentially affects the universe, but still only feels like a side project and unimportant to the story. Maybe as the series goes along this side mission will be shown to have had more impact on the story than I could see.

And just a couple of random comments to add: I’ve read reviews that mention how Britain likes to use all the fantasy tropes you can think of, and I can’t disagree with that. However, a lot of them seemed pretty fresh uses to me. There are also definite parallels with Tolkien’s work, beyond the very black and white nature of the characters, but that’s almost hard to not do these days. I would definitely have to agree that Green Rider’s parallels are stronger than those I’ve read in other novels lately. On the other hand, it’s a bit like coming home in that sense.

And apparently my blog has been found at least once by people searching to see if you can read the Green Rider novels out of order. In this case, it’s something I’d definitely not recommend. I may be biased however. Even with series that aren’t necessarily connected (Terry Brooks, Brian Jacques, L.E. Modesitt, Jr.) I like to read them in order. On the other hand, thinking about it, the stories are fairly self contained. I just can’t say personally whether they work out of order, since I’ve never read them that way. One would definitely be missing out on detailed background info as a person might assume.

And now for the most recent installment, which you can still comment to win over at Waiting for Fairies, Blackveil!

Guest Review – First Rider’s Call

A note from Kiara: Thus continue our guest reviews of the Green Rider series. Don’t forget to enter our Blackveil Giveaway!
First Rider's Call cover art

The blurb:

Karigan, who took on the mantle of king’s messenger after chancing upon a dying Green Rider, has returned to her everyday life. She has put the thrills and perils of being caught up in great events apparently behind her. But few may evade their destiny, and Karigan is soon to face even greater dangers… Blackveil Forest is stirring, its tainted powers seeping through the breach in the D’Yer wall. While havoc sweeps the countryside, a Green Rider and scion of the stoneworkers who created the wall, attempts to mend the breach. Summoned to duty by the call of the First Rider, Karigan must help the Riders, and face the truth about her own savage heritage. Sought by undead warriors and caught in the machinations of the mysterious Eletians, Karigan must confront an ancient enemy in the rotten heart of Blackveil.

First Rider’s Call, the second book in Kristen Britain’s Green Rider series, can be summed up with one word. Betrayal. I’m not the most sopisticated reader ever. I tend to read only for enjoyment, but this one I actually caught the thread in. I’m not even sure I can count the number of different betrayals (or seeming betrayals) that occurred in this story; I certainly can’t do it on only one hand.

For the record, I should mention that in no way did I, as the reader, feel betrayed. Quite the opposite actually, this novel provides so much quality, character insights, and exciting happenings that I can’t even describe how happy it makes me. Or how sad I was when I finished (sort of, the ending was fantastic, which is fortunate for those unfortunate souls who had to wait years for the next book)! Fortunately for me, I had the next one on hand to start reading once I finished this one! 😉

The funny thing about betrayal is that it can often lead to hope and happiness and lots of other great things. Sounds weird, I know, but if you read this novel, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

And that Karigan. She’s impulsive surely, but as Captain Mapstone once thinks, leaders of the Green Riders need to have flexibility in their thinking. And Karigan’s got that in spades. She thinks out of the box and takes advantage of crazy things without thinking twice. This is the second time I read this book and I was completely surprised by her solution for the second time. Totally didn’t see it coming. (Of course, it doesn’t help that I hadn’t remembered how it finished since it’s been so long since that first read through!)

My only disappointment is that Karigan’s dad didn’t play a direct role in this novel. He’s mentioned, but that’s not the same at all. Oh well, I’m sure I’ll get over it. 😉

So there’s that! On to The High King’s Tomb!

Kiaras Festivus Green Rider Guest Review & Blackveil GIVEAWAY

A Note From Kiara: This review & giveaway is written and sponsored by one of my dear friends who posts as Spragujs and has been cross-posted with the author’s permission from The Double Phoenix blog. Please stay tuned for the giveaway at the end of this post!

To celebrate Festivus Kiaras, Kiara has asked for some guest reviews.  In honor of my friend’s birthday month and the release of one of my favorite author’s newest books, I’m doing a reread review of the associated series as well as a give away of the newest book.  It will be a hardcover copy that I’ll have read before sending it out, so it’ll be slightly used and you won’t get it in time for the release, but maybe if you haven’t read any of the series yet, this give away will entice you to go out and give the others a shot.  🙂  And with no further adieu…

I recently finished rereading Green Rider, the first book in Kristen Britain’s Green Rider series, in preparation for the fourth book, Blackveil, which is coming out today. The blurb:

Karigan G’ladahon has fled from school following a fight which would surely lead to her expulsion. As she makes her way through the deep forest, a galloping horse pounds up to her, its rider impaled by two black-shafted arrows. With his dying breath, he tells her he is a Green Rider, one of the legendary magical messengers of the King, and makes Karigan swear to deliver the message he’s carrying, giving her his green coat, with its symbolic brooch of office. This promise given to a dying man changes Karigan’s life forever. Pursued by unknown assassins, following a path only her horse seems to know, she unwittingly finds herself in a world of deadly danger and complex magic, compelled by forces she cannot understand.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I wish more of my friends had read these books.  I remembered the stories very vaguely as feeling very otherworldly, which was pretty funny to me after reading an article about the upcoming release party for Blackveil, that ”while the stories are fantasies, the characters and settings are not fantastical or otherworldly.  There is an appealing familiarity about them, and they are so convincingly drawn that they could be real.”  I agree, but at the same time still stand by my statement.  The world is extremely vivid and easily imagined.  I think it’s the layer of magic that blankets everything combined with the very easily imagined setting that gives me the otherworldly feeling.  It should feel extremely familiar, but the magic also makes it very different.

Green Rider introduces the reader to the world of Sacoridia and its surrounds, to the characters of the story, and to the idea that there’s a very big story arc coming up in this series.  The characters are great, and even if they do tend to fall to the black and white, they’re still individuals with their own strengths, weaknesses, and personalities.  I’m always impressed that Britain has made me feel for even the briefly mentioned characters when things (often bad) end up happening to them.  Very brief descriptions bring them fully to life.  I will say that her attempts at romance in this novel were a little less than fully developed, but that’s really the only complaint I can think of at this point.  With more novels out, there’s plenty of time for them to become more believable.

I also think that Karigan may be one of the few protagonists I’ve run into that I can remember that wasn’t whiny.  Yes, she starts out pretty spoiled and of course she complains about a few things and makes wishes about others, but not to the point where I’d describe it as whiny.  Just in case that’s a pet peeve for any interested readers out there!  ;)

Check The Double Phoenix soon for a review of book 2, First Rider’s Call!

Another note from Kiara: If you’d like to enter the giveaway for a copy of Blackveil, please leave a comment on this post. Giveaway is open to International readers and will close February 28th at midnight EST. One entry per commenter, regardless of the number of comments left. Winner will be drawn at random.