#Fantasy Review: First Rider's Call by Kristen Britain

With this year marking the 20th anniversary of the Green Rider series, I stepped back into the series with The Dream Gatherer earlier this month, and it rekindled the magic . . . just as I'd hope it would. I vividly remember reading - and enjoying - Green Rider, and I can only figure that it was the 5-year gap between books that kept me from continuing. My younger self's loss, and my present self's gain.

Despite the years between books, I found myself slipping back into Kristen Britain's world with ease, reuniting with the cast of First Rider's Call just as if I'd put down the first book last week. That's a testament to the characters, the world-building, and the writing.

There's been so much said about the series over the years, I'm not sure what I can add, but the world-building here is incredible. The mythology of the Green Riders is deep and detailed, with the broaches connecting them to the Call, as well as to the ghosts of past riders. Those ghosts play a huge role here, most notably with Karigan and Lil Ambriodhe, the First Rider, but also on a smaller scale with the ghosts of the castle catacombs.

History plays a crucial role here as well, exposing more about the world, the conflict that defined its last age, and the connection between characters. There are some genuine surprises there, and conflicts that add additional layers to the story. It also provides the story with a legitimate force of evil that haunts every aspect, and which threatens to bleed out from the Blackveil, one of the cooler pieces of haunted geography I've come across in epic fantasy.

Is it a perfect book? Not quite. The pacing is a bit uneven, and there are some secrets held too close to the chest for too long, making for a confusing read. Also, there was a strikingly poor choice in layout, with the font used to capture the Journal of Hadriax el Fex extraordinarily difficult to read. Those are minor quibbles though, and the strength of characters and the quality of the writing overcoming all else, driving me to order The High King's Tomb, Blackveil, and Mirror Sight over the weekend.

Paperback, 596 pages
Published August 3rd 2004 by DAW (first published 2003)