Squalor Atop Grand Ruins

Now that we’ve been introduced to the world of Green Rider, it’s time to dive right into the main plot.  In many ways, it’s easy to see that these books are strongly influenced by Tolkien, and why not?  The man changed the face of literature with The Lord of the Rings and his books are still beloved today.  Green Rider tells us of some historical events, such as the Clan Wars two hundred years previously when King Agates Sealender died without naming an heir, and the Clans fought amongst themselves until Smidhe Hillander took the throne at last.  It even mentions the Long War, a thousand years in the past when King Jonneus Sealender was chosen to be the first high King of the Sacor Clans and the Green Riders were formed under Lil Ambriodhe’s leadership to fight against Mornhavon the Black.  It was said that after that war ended, the evil was sealed away in Blackveil Forest, behind the D’Yer Wall.

Sounds nice, but Green Rider opened with the wall being cracked, and finally breached.  First Rider’s Call is about those myths and legends of a thousand years ago being revealed for the truth they are.  After all…Blackveil is awake.  Or rather, Mornhavon still exists, bodiless, within the Forest, able to exert his will on all within…and some without.

As wild magic strikes randomly through Sacoridia, and we begin to see our heroes looking to the past for information and answers, I cannot help remembering one particular scene from The Fellowship of the Ring.  (The movie version, as I personally found the books to be very dry.)  It’s when the Fellowship is sailing down the river and Aragorn gestures, saying “The Argonath.  Long have I desired to look upon the faces of the kings of old.  My kin.”  Then the camera pans up and we see the two massive sculptures of men who stand on either bank, one hand each thrust forward as if they might bar the way.  To see the scale of them, a scale that is unseen in any mortal lands before that point, it really brings home the fact that the people of Middle Earth live in squalor atop the ruins of a previous Age.  To see that their ancestors were capable of so much…and they (seemingly) so little…

Sacoridia is a little different in some ways.  The Sacor Clans of the past were much less civilized, as we of Western European descent use the term.  However, they were much more proficient and powerful in the use of magic than their descendents.  Karigan’s particular skill is to fade out, allowing her to seem invisible in proper lighting conditions.  Yet the use of this ability turns the world around her to grey and gives her a splitting headache.  This in contrast to when Lil Ambriodhe uses the same ability and feels nothing but a bit of strain, as one does when concentrating hard.

We get this contrast because only so many winged horse brooches were made long ago, so all that the Green Riders possess were once worn by one of the original Riders.  The brooches themselves call new individuals to the messenger service, and they seem to resonate with people who share the same abilities as the original owner.  Thus, the brooch Karigan wears is the same one worn by Lil herself, the First Rider.  Between this, and the wild magic running amok, Karigan has some strange adventures in First Rider’s Call.  I can’t even say that these are her strangest, because it’s only the second book and Karigan’s had one of the most interesting Rider careers in history…and she’s only been a full Rider for a year or so at this point.

This book also contains one of the best comic relief scenes in the series, near the end of the story.  Kristen Britain managed to establish a side character just enough for readers to remember, then brings them back just in time to make the reader smile.  Considering that the end result of the main plot is really just a holding action to buy time (and prolong the series, good marketing that), it’s a good point to interject a bit of humor.  When your main character seems to be constantly surrounded by death (a point which has been and will continue to be remarked upon) it’s always nice to find bits that actually make you laugh.

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