Next up: “Firebrand” by Kristen Britain
The sixth book in the Green Rider series. As such, there will be SPOILERS.
In this continuation of the series, Karigan is back from her ill-fated trip to the future, her eye badly injured and her heart sick. But there is no rest to be found in her return, as Second Empire plots continue to endanger Sacoridia and the Crown. Karigan must ride north with Sacoridia’s Eletian allies, searching for another, missing, ally. But north is also where a large Second Empire cell lies hidden in the forests, lead by Grandmother, a sorceress of great power. Even as Karigan rides to deal with one problem, Grandmother sends malevolent magic to Sacor City, to threaten King Zachary and his pregnant queen.
Poor Karigan kind of gets the short end of the stick (again) here. I think in my initial review of the series (encompassing the first five books, here), I mention being slightly annoyed that everyone seems to fall in love with her. Well, as the series has progressed, that trope has kind of been subverted, in a way. While a number of characters do pine after her in various books, Karigan never does get to be a part of a relationship. Everything seems stacked against her in this way. This book also beats up on Karigan, in the way “Mirror Sight” started to. Her life is not sunshine and roses, not by a long-shot.
I enjoyed this book, and burned through it like a wildfire. It’s going to be another agonizing wait for the next installation to come out… I really need to know more! Everything seems so dismal and grim in this one; I was beginning to lose a little hope near the end. Grandmother is a terrifying antagonist; everything seems to work out so well for her, I just want a mountain to fall on her horrible head. Evil-doers are not supposed to get so lucky! It feels like Sacoridia and its allies are struggling two steps behind the Second Empire’s schemes.
Karigan’s status as an avatar of the Death God continues to expand in this book, which is really great. It’s a plot thread that I really like in this series and that I hope will stay interesting. I was also very interested in the last bit of the book, which hints at some returning story threads that had faded into the background a couple books ago.
In terms of where I’d rate this in the series… I still like the first three books the best, but this was rather an urgent read. Where I might have not been too invested in the previous book (as much as I love time travel as a trope, I remain semi-withdrawn from the characters and narrative), this book returns to the realm and characters I’d connected with in all the other installments, and puts them in a lot of harrowing situations. I couldn’t help but blaze through the pages.
Torture and violence.