Green Rider (Green Rider Series #1)

Green Rider (Green Rider Series #1)

by Kristen Britain

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Magic, danger, and adventure abound for messenger Karigan G'ladheon in author Kristen Britain's New York Times-bestselling Green Rider fantasy series • "First-rate fantasy." —Library Journal 

On her long journey home from school after a fight that will surely lead to her expulsion, Karigan G'ladheon ponders her uncertain future. As she trudges through the immense Green Cloak forest, her thoughts are interrupted by the clattering of hooves, as a galloping horse bursts from the woods.

The rider is slumped over his mount's neck, impaled by two black-shafted arrows. As the young man lies dying on the road, he tells Karigan he is a Green Rider, one of the legendary messengers of the king of Sacoridia.

Before he dies, he begs Karigan to deliver the “life and death” message he bears to King Zachary. When she reluctantly he agrees, he makes her swear on his sword to complete his mission, whispering with his dying breath, "Beware the shadow man...". 

Taking on the golden-winged horse brooch that is the symbol of the Green Riders, Karigan is swept into a world of deadly danger and complex magic, her life forever changed. Compelled by forces she cannot understand, Karigan is accompanied by the silent specter of the fallen messenger and hounded by dark beings bent on seeing that the message, and its reluctant carrier, never reach their destination.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781440632099
Publisher: DAW
Publication date: 11/04/2008
Series: Green Rider Series , #1
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 29,642
File size: 1 MB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Kristen Britain is the author of the New York Times-bestselling Green Rider series. She lives in an adobe house in the high desert of the American Southwest beneath the big sky and among lizards, hummingbirds, and tumbleweeds. Kristen can be found online at

Read an Excerpt

Karigan G’ladheon awakened to the chitter of waxwings and chickadees. Mourning doves cooed and jays defended their territories with raucous song and fluttering wings. Above her, the sky opened up like an expansive dusky canopy that winked with stars. The moon hung low in the west.
Karigan groaned. She lay at the edge of a fallow farmer’s field, behind a hedgerow, and her back wasn’t taking it well.
She pushed damp hair away from her brow. Everything was wet with dew and her clothes stuck to her like a cold and clammy second skin. She remembered aloud why she was here.
“To get away from Selium.”
Her own voice startled her. Aside from the birds, the countryside was wide open and empty and silent. There would be no tolling of Morningtide Bell here, nor the familiar creaking of floorboards as her fellow students moved around in her old dormitory building preparing for a day of classes.
She stood up and shivered in the chill spring air. Indeed, she was “away” from Selium, and would get farther away still before the day was done. She gathered her blanket and things, stuffed them into her pack, stepped over the hedgerow, and started walking. She carried little more than a hunk of bread, some cheese, a change of clothes, and some jewelry that had belonged to her mother—the only objects precious enough to her to carry away. All the rest had been left in the dormitory in her haste to leave Selium.
She walked briskly to stave off the chill, the gravel of the road crunching beneath her boots. The rising sun, with its bands of orange and gold, drew her east.
As she walked, the glistening grasses of farm fields transformed into thick stands of fir and spruce blotting out the newly risen sun and darkening the road.
This was the edge of the Green Cloak she entered, an immense wood that grew thick and wild in the heart of Sacoridia. Its more tame borders marched in snatches and thickets right down to the shores of Ullem Bay and the foothills of the Wingsong Mountains. The bulk of the wood was dense and unbroken, save for villages and towns that made islands of themselves in its interior, and the occasional woods road that, from an eagle’s view, she thought, must cut through it like a scar.
Such roads were often in conflict with their surroundings. It didn’t take much for saplings to start growing in the middle of woods roads and winter blowdowns to topple across them, eventually obscuring the least used. A carpet of rusty pine needles softened Karigan’s footfalls and gave this road an abandoned look, though it was the main thoroughfare leading into Selium from points east.
Karigan walked till her stomach growled. She sought out a warm patch of sun surrounded by solid, cold shade, and washed down chunks of bread and cheese with handfuls of water from a gurgling stream next to the road. It wasn’t the choicest water, but it would have to do.
Afterward, she splashed cold water on her face. She felt altogether bedraggled after just one night on the road, and she longed for the hot baths and full meals the school served up.
“Don’t tell me I miss it...” She glanced over her shoulder as if the entire campus, with its templelike academic buildings looming over the city from atop its hill, might pop into view.
It was curious how a night on the road made yesterday’s events seem somehow less significant, less hurtful. Karigan half-turned, gazing back down the road which, within a day’s walk, ended at the school. Her hands tightened into balls and she clenched her jaw. She would show the dean.
Kick me out of school, will you? Let’s see how you like confronting my father. She grinned, imagining her father, his expression livid, towering over a shrinking Dean Geyer.
Then her shoulders sagged and her grin faltered. It was no good. She had no control over her father. What if he agreed with the dean that her punishment was just?
She kicked the ground and pebbles skittered across the road. Gods, what a mess. She hoped to reach Corsa before the dean’s letter did, so she could tell her father her side of the story first. Either way, she would be in deep trouble. Maybe she ought to hire herself out on a merchant barge and stay away for good. After all, that’s what her father had done when he was a boy.
She jammed her hands into her pockets, and with head bowed, ambled along the rutted road at a reluctant pace.
She startled a baby squirrel sitting on an old lightning-racked stump. It pipped and squealed, its tail abristle. It stamped in place, then darted from one edge of the stump to the other, as if too frightened to decide which way to go.
“Sorry I scared you, little one,” Karigan said.
Chittering, the squirrel dashed into some underbrush and scurried noisily through the leaf litter of the forest floor, sounding like some much larger beast.
Karigan walked on humming an off-key tune. However, when the sounds of the squirrel did not abate but, in fact, grew much louder, she froze.
The racket shattered the woods. Trees and shrubs shook as if some wild creature—many times larger than a squirrel—thrashed in the twined branches and undergrowth. Crazed catamounts and rabid wolves played through her mind. She hadn’t a weapon with which to fend off the beast, and she couldn’t run either; her feet seemed to have taken root in the ground.
She drew a ragged breath. Whatever the nameless beast was, it charged her way, and fast.
It burst from the woods in an explosion of branches. Karigan’s breath hissed in her throat like a broken whistle.
The creature loomed huge and dark in the tree shadows. It huffed with great wheezings through flared nostrils like some infernal demon. Karigan closed her eyes and stepped back. When she looked again, a horse and rider, not some evil dragon of legend, staggered onto the road. Twigs and leaves fell from them to the ground.
The horse, a long-legged chestnut, was lathered with sweat and huffed as if from a hard run. The rider slumped over the chestnut’s neck. He was clad in a green uniform. Branches had lashed trails of blood across his white face. His broad-shouldered frame twitched with fatigue.
He half dismounted, half fell from the horse. Karigan cried out when she saw two black-shafted arrows impaled in his back.
“Please...” He beckoned her with a crimson glove.
She took one hesitant step forward.
The rider was only a few years older than she. Black hair was plastered across his pain-creased brow. Blue eyes blazed bright with fever. With the two arrows buried in his back, he looked as if he had fought off death longer than any mortal should have.
He was of Sacoridia, Karigan was certain, though the green uniforms were far rarer than the black and silver of the regular militia.
Each step she took was shaky as if her legs could no longer support her. She knelt beside him, not sure how she could aid a dying man.
“Are you Sacoridian?” he asked.
“Do you love your country and your king?”
Karigan paused. What a curious question. King Zachary was relatively new to the throne and she knew little of his policies or methods, but it wouldn’t do to sound disloyal to a dying servant of Sacoridia.
“I’m a messenger...Green Rider.” The young man’s body spasmed with pain, and blood dribbled over his lip and down his chin. “The satchel on the saddle...important message for...king. Life or death. If you love Sacor...Sacoridia and its king, take it. Take it to him.”
“I—I...” One part of her wanted to run screaming from him, and another part felt drawn to his need. Running away to Corsa, instead of waiting for her father to collect her at Selium, had held an irresistible air of adventure that she had anticipated. But real adventure now looked at her with a terrifying visage.
“Please,” he whispered. “You are—”
The last words died inaudibly as blood gurgled in his throat and sprayed his lips, but she thought she caught a breathy the one. The one what? The only one on the road? The only one to take the message?
“Dangerous.” He shuddered.
Everything around fell silent in an expectant hush, as if the world held its breath for her decision.
Before Karigan could stop herself, she said, “I’ll do it.” She heard the words as if someone else had drawn them from her.
“You s-swear?”
She nodded.
“Sword. Bring it to me.”
The horse shied from Karigan, but she caught his reins and drew the saber from the saddle sheath. Its curved blade flickered in a patch of sun as she held it out before her. She knelt beside the messenger again.
“Wrap your hands around the hilt,” he said. When she did, he placed his hands over hers. It was then she saw his gloves were not dyed crimson, not originally. He coughed, and more blood flecked the corners of his mouth. “Swear...swear you’ll deliver...the message to King Zachary...for love of country.”
Karigan could only stare at him wide-eyed.
It was as if she already looked upon a ghost rather than a living man. He would not allow himself to die until she swore the oath. “I swear...I’ll deliver the message for the love of my country.”
Although she had sworn, the Green Rider was not ready to die yet. “Take the brooch...from my chest. It will ident...” He squeezed his eyes shut in pain till the spell passed. “Identify you as other Riders.” The words were gasped as if he were forcing air in and out of his lungs by sheer will to extend his life. “Fly...Rider, with great speed. Don’t read m-message. Then they can’t from you. If captured, shred it and toss it to the winds.” Then, because his voice had grown so faint, she had to lean very close to hear his final words. “Beware the shadow man.”
A cold tremor ran through Karigan’s body. “I’ll do my best,” she told him.
There was no response from the messenger this time though his eyes still stared at her, bright and otherworldly. She gently pried his fingers from her hand and closed his eyes. She hadn’t noticed the winged horse brooch before, but now, pinned over his heart, it glowed golden in the sun. Absently she wiped bloody finger marks off her hands onto her trousers and then unclasped the brooch.
A curious sensation, not at all unpleasant, as if all her nerves sang in unison, tingled throughout her body. The gold warmth of the sun embraced her, and drove the shadowy chill away. There was a fluttering like great white wings beating the air, and the sound of silver-shod hooves galloping...
Moments later, the sensation receded, and she realized the sound was her own excited heartbeat, and the sun had risen sufficiently to widen the patch of light she stood in. Nothing more. She pinned the brooch to her shirt.
She then sensed, like a breeze whispering through a hundred aspen trees, invisible lips that seemed to murmur, Welcome, Rider.

Table of Contents

What People are Saying About This

Marion Zimmer Bradley


From the Publisher

"A wonderfully captivating heroic fantasy adventure. This is the rarest of finds: a truly enjoyable read." —Terry Goodkind

"A fresh, well-organized fantasy debut, with a spirited heroine and a reliable supporting cast." —Kirkus

"The author's skill at world building and her feel for dramatic storytelling make this first-rate fantasy a good choice." —Library Journal

"Britain keeps the excitement high from beginning to end, balancing epic magical battles with the humor and camaraderie of Karigan and her fellow riders." —Publishers Weekly

Terry Goodkind

A wonderfully captivating heroic fantasy adventure.

Customer Reviews

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Green Rider 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 384 reviews.
Brittany Strickland More than 1 year ago
This book is absolutly amazing! This book has everything; magic, adventure, humor, romance, plot twists, battles, and crazy smart horses. Kristen Britain never ever seems to disappoint! The only thing is that it takes her awhile to wriite a new book, but trust me its so worth the wait! I havnt met anyone whos read this book and not fallen head over heels in love.
C28 More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed The Green Rider, and thought it was a great start to a series, as well as a great first novel for the writer. I liked the lead character, as well as the many other we meet along her journey. I look forward to reading the rest of the series. I recommend this book to adults and older teens who would like to read a fantasy/adventure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you're looking for something in the fantasy genre outside the worlds of Tolkien, Jordan and Goodkind, give Kristin Britain's new series a try. The premise of the Green Riders is new and intriguing, with the main character being a young woman! It's a "wild ride" along with Karigan G'ladheon through the Green Cloak forest and into the world of the Green Riders. Magic, intrigue, the politics of a kingdom endangered by an ancient enemy....and only the Green Riders stand to defend the world they know from those trying to end it. Pick it up today - it's a great read and you'll enjoy it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great foundation book of the series. Book 2: ' First Riders Call' is just as good and Book 3: 'The High King's Tomb' is even better! They are also light enough that younger generations (teens) can enjoy and relate and enjoy them all. Granted, it's not a book for everyone but is one that leaves the reader impatient to read the next book in the series. Is not for people who like deep and complex plots/themes/characters they can absorb and over analyze or want fast paced plot movement and " truly think something that should take a few days at most shouldn't take up 400 pages." Never mind the fact this book is the foundation of the whole series and Karigan is facing dangers at every turn in the book while trying to deliver a message that wasn't her's to deliver in the first place, out running enemies that will stop at nothing to kill her to keep the message from being delivered, AND is to do so with no other help than the Spirit of the Murdered Green Rider who made per promise to get the message to Sacor City and his mount/a horse. She also discovers that the Green Rider's Broach holds magic she learns she can wield to help her escape and elude those intent on stopping her. In the end she helps defeat the King's Enemies, the Mirwellians, and learns a lot about herself and who she is to become (her calling in life). In the end she finds that she's no longer just an average citizen of her world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Karigan G'ladheon is a well spun character. Britain gives breathe to her story - even in the heavier parts of the book, she lightens the mood with a bit of humor. I especially liked how she tied the Horse into the fabric of the tale. This has everything that I love in a book: action, strong characters, a bit of suspense, and a few horses to boot!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of my absolute favorite books ever. If I'm bored and don't have anything new or I'm going on a long trip, I grab this book because it never gets old and I find something new everytime. Karigan is about as real of a character as anyone can bring to life. After running away from school, she gets thrust into a world of magic and intrigue. With her new partner, The Horse, she must deliever a message. But someone doesn't want said message to make it to its final destination. Kristen Britian surely is a gift writer. Not only do her characters come to life, but the imagery is so vivid, you'll feel like you're there. No part of this story is boring in anyway. If you're looking for a great magical page-turner, read this.
Burgundy-Fire More than 1 year ago
This is the start to an addictive and powerful series!! Worth every penny.
Laurel Woods More than 1 year ago
I would encorage anyone to read this. It was an amazing book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
rubypearl More than 1 year ago
i tend towards paranormal books, especially ones with animals. this series is well written, engaging, at times very humorous, sigh, i could go on forever so list only negative, which is, well, maybe some sex be nice, poor girl, geez ;) oh, and for some reason takes around four years for next book be released, lucky me did not come across it until fourth book published.. hopefully nothing happens to author before fifth and hopefully final book comes out, im not getting any younger either, lol.
Emily Bellina More than 1 year ago
im a big fan of all mystical magic-like books, but this blew me away! i cant wait for the fourth!
MaineKoshka More than 1 year ago
Other than being a fan of Harry Potter, I have not considered myself a huge fan of fantasy in general. This book may be the one that opens my mind to a new genre. I loaded this into my nook as my first purchase after meeting the author at a literacy event, and I have not been disappointed. Quickly caught up by the characters and the storyline, I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
LauraDragonWench on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first impression one gets from reading the back cover of Green Rider is the obvious parallels to the Heralds of Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey. Both involve messengers of the regent, special horses, and magic. And while there are some similarities, Britain's book reads with less magic and more grit and politics. The world is rougher, more dangerous; the land of the story is broken into clans, much as Europe was broken into multiple kingdoms, fiefdoms, etc. several centuries ago; clans who strive by any means necessary for more power, more land, more resources, something we're all familiar with in today's world. The core of the story revolves around a young girl who promises to carry an important message to the king, even though the messenger who passes it on to her is dying, mortally wounded at the hands of an unknown enemy. This girl, now thrust into matters that had never before intruded into her awareness, finds her eyes opened to the dangerous and intricate dance of power played out by the clans and the king and is made aware of the consequences of joining such a dance, even unwittingly. Overall, it's a satisfying read; I look forward to reading the next two books in this series. The pace runs well and the author isn't afraid of terrifying or humiliating her characters, which makes the drama and action all the more heartpounding, and the triumphs all the more cheer-worthy.
MorganGMac on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Britain jumps into the action and carries a quick pace throughout, which makes this an entertaining fast read. Karigan is a stubborn young woman, who gets in a fight at boarding school, is suspended, and runs away. On the road, she discovers a dying messenger with two arrows in his back. She agrees to carry his message to the king, and she's immediately swept into a long, twisting chase scene. This is the second time I've read the book, and I have to say I remember liking it better the first time. The fast plot and the main character are both great, but at times, it feels quickly written, too, almost like it needed one more thorough editing. Still, I'd recommend.
kendosam on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first novel in an exciting new fantasy series. The Green Rider is a fast paced story about a feisty girl named Karigan, a run away from boarding school who gets caught up in a strange adventure when all she wants is to get home. This is a great read if you want a fresh, fun, classic fantasy read. You will not want to put it down.
knielsen83 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this book a few years ago, along with the second book. The third just came out this year so I decided to read them again. This book is full of adventure and struggle. I love the main character Karigan and how she struggles against becoming a Green Rider but always ends up helping her kingdom by taking on the role without meaning to. It is a great series and I will hopefully get onto the second book so I can read the newest edition of Karigan's adventures.
humouress on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the story of Karigan G'ladheon, a rich merchant's daughter, who has run away from school after a fight with the son of a nobleman. On her way home through the forest, she is accosted by a dying Green Rider - a messenger of the king - who charges her to finish his mission for the sake of their king and country. She inherits his horse, his green coat and his Rider brooch, as well as his dangerous adventure, as she tries to reach the capital, pursued by his killers, and aided by mysterious Rider magic.This is a good first book with lots of action, magic and intrigue.
dk_phoenix on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My apologies to those of you who adore this book and the series, but... WHY?!?!I'm willing to listen to arguments for it, and I'm willing to give the rest of the books a try if you can convince me. I wanted to like this book, I really did... but I fell asleep on multiple occasions while reading it (during the ,i>day), put it down on other occasions and didn't have any inclination to pick it up again, complained about it to my husband, and finally finished reading it only because I wanted to understand why people enjoyed the book so much.I found the main character to be flat and uninspired, and I didn't really care whether she lived or died. I didn't like any of the people she met along the way, save the cliche "kindly woodsman" (though you'd have to be pretty heartless not to like kindly woodsmen), and the monsters were far from frightening. I got no sense of development from the main character until the very end where she Suddenly Saves The Day in conjunction with a convenient "bad character has an epiphany" moment, and *ta-da* all is well again. Maybe I'm being too harsh... maybe I've been spoiled by reading such wonderful world building and character development by other fantasy authors lately *ahemBrandonSandersonahem*... but I wanted to like this one and was very, very disappointed that I didn't. I have no desire to read more of Britain's work... but I'm willing to let myself be convinced to give her another go.Ack. Maybe that's just asking for trouble... but if trouble means giving an author another chance, I might be up for it.
FRLTAG on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a totally awesome book!!!!!!!!It is a fantasy, but it is very original, not like many of the newer fantasy books.
KatieLovett on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm glad I persisted through this book, but I confess that I almost gave up. Little seems to happen until halfway through, and the few things that do don't seem relevant to the plot. Also, the magic in this story has no rules that I can see, and several things appear to be awfully convenient as a result. However, Karigan is a great character, one you want to root for, which is what kept me going until the plot became more interesting. It ends nicely. If for nothing else, I'd recommend it so you can then read the sequel, which is much better than Green Rider. But that's another review.
Garridon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is like an old friend--it's so good that I periodically go back and reread it again. I'm looking forward to the next one coming out this year.
storyjunkie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Karigan G'ladheon finds herself caught up in Kingdom-wide events when she crosses paths with a dying man on the run. He is a Green Rider- of the King's Messenger Service, and his mission is to get a message warning of danger to the King. Karigan takes up his mission as he instructs her with his last breath, and thus launches herself along a path only legends are made to travel.Aided by folk who don't get involved with just any errand, and pursued by enemies who don't act on whims, Karigan becomes a wild card in a game between highly skilled players, set before her arrival. She enters the story and forces everyone to readjust, becoming the deciding factor simply by being where she is, and acting as herself, at any given time.Britain's characters are utterly real. Emotions ring true, and as irrational as emotions should be, as characters perform actions that are true to themselves as well as service the plot. She used the roving third-person limited POV to great advantage, as each character gets a distinct voice, and the reader gets more information essential to the story at the same time as learning the people. Also good with the dramatic tension, as neither reader nor characters have all the information.The elements of the story are tight, in that there are no stray ruminations or information, no tangents simply to show off some aspect of the world Britain has built. All things presented arise organically from the story rather than the setting. Characters act in character as they're presented with plot events, which resolve in one way vs another due to the actions of the characters.
irishkitsune on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Kristen Britain weaves an entertaining story about Karigan, a girl who gets thrown into the middle of a strange and magical quest that she never wanted to be a part of. Taking up the mantle of a fallen Green Rider, one of the King's trusted messengers, she has to dodge all sorts of danger to get an important message safely to its destination.
rbtwinky on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a straightforward book with some truly wonderful characters. The protagonist of the story, Karigan G'ladheon, is a spunky, courageous, and imminently lovable young woman. As the story progresses, her strength of character and inherent goodness are revealed. The friends that she makes along her journey disappear, making hers a sojourn of sorts, something that is uncommon to fantasy stories. Also uncommon is that of the enemies she meets early on, only one ends up being a problem for her. Despite some allusions that one of his lackeys will be against her, personally. As the book marches towards its conclusion, however, the dastardly bad guy shows up, and things start to take a predictable course of action. The progression of her journey was very choppy. From leaving her school to reaching North there is no feeling of movement. Perhaps this was due to not having a map, but despite all the running and backtracking that happened, it seemed like she wasn't going anywhere. Then in the span of two days she goes from deep in the forest to North, and then on to the castle itself. It was like Britain decided she needed to hurry up and end the story. Another detraction from the story were the superficial romantic allusions. Two men take a liking to Karigan once she reaches the castle, and she seems to have feelings for both. Although she seems to forget about one of them altogether. I thought they both added elements to the story, but her wishy-washy reactions to them were boring, lame, and diminished Karigan's integrity.
velvetsnape on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Awesome! You will get swept up in this amazing tale of adventure, danger and strong magic. A must read!!!
SunnySD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An old premise, but a good story. Stumbling on a dying messenger, a young runaway is dragged willy-nilly into major political intrigue and great personal peril. She must act, or the kingdom will fall.A good beginning, although I agree with some other reviewers that the sequel, First Rider's Call, is the stronger of the two books.