Sunday, March 13, 2011

Blackveil by Kristen Britain

WARNING: I try to avoid spoilers, but they are possible (even probable), since this is the fourth book of the Green Rider series. Green Rider (review here) is the first. I recommend reading them in order.

This review actually has some spoilers (clearly marked). I appreciated the warning on the crazy shit that goes on in this book, so I imagine there are some others out there too that prefer to know what they're getting into before taking on a book like this.
Once a simple student, Karigan G'ladheon finds herself in a world of deadly danger and complex magic, compelled by forces she cannot understand when she becomes a legendary Green Rider-one of the magical messengers of the king. Forced by magic to accept a dangerous fate she would never have chosen, headstrong Karigan has become completely devoted to the king and her fellow Riders.

But now, an insurrection led by dark magicians threatens to break the boundaries of ancient, evil Blackveil Forest-releasing powerful dark magics that have been shut away for a millennium. 

I think the subtext "long-awaited sequel" has been on every Kristen Britain book since Green Rider. Here are the respective publication dates of each Green Rider book:

Green Rider (1998)
First Rider's Call (2003)
The High King's Tomb (2007)
Blackveil (2011)

To be a Kristen Britain fan, one must be very patient to wait 4-5 years between books. That said, though, it's easy to be patient generally. Britain has always made an effort to wrap up at least some plotlines and let the reader have a sense of closure, even if the story is still ongoing. No such luck with Blackveil. Ginormous cliffhanger at the end, so if you have a problem with that I'd hold out for the next one to come out first.

This book was a lot darker and more mature than previous books as well. Be prepared for travel into "ookey" territory more than the other books. Still on the PG-13 side though, imo. All in all, I enjoyed it immensely, more than the third book that's for sure. Aside from tying up some messy, random plotlines from #3, it was a cleanly written and a fast read (for such a long book that is.) I couldn't put it down. Very refreshing after #3.

Once again, the romance aspects and character interactions make the book feel sort of light, but the rest of the plot is very dark and lends some depth to the book.


So there are some odd things about this book. First, Zachary gets shot in an assassination attempt, and for the good of the country (mostly), his advisers decide to conduct a sham marriage between him and Estora, with Colin saying "I do" for the king, since he's out cold. There's some sort of ritual where some people have to watch the king and queen do it for the first time, and this ritual still occurs even though Zachary is delerious. Estora and Zachary are both drugged, and they have sex...Zachary thinking Estora is Karigan, and Estora being blackmailed by her cousin. It's really weird, and I think that surely there was some way for the story to go the same general way that didn't involve this weirdness.


So other than some strange twists in the story, I really liked Blackveil a lot. It brought me back to the first two books, and there was never a dull moment, that's for sure. I could see hints of how the book series might end too, which was nice. I am hoping that the fifth will be the last. As much as I will miss new books, I think it's time for the series to conclude. Blackveil feels like the beginning of the end, and I hope not to get another "let's drag this out and make more money" book after this one being so much better than The High King's Tomb.

Bottom Line
 To sum it up: Exciting, dark, and memorable.
Overall Rating: 4 / 5
Buy or Try? Buy
More? 4 / 4 so far. Unsure of how many there will be was initially to be a trilogy.

Plot: 4 / 5
Setting: 4 / 5
Characters: 3.5 / 5
Pace: Fast
Descriptiveness: Prose
Fantasy factor: High Fantasy link

Challenges: 2011 Fantasy Reading Challenge


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