Book Review: The High King’s Tomb

Book Review: The High King’s TombThe High King's Tomb (Green Rider, #3) by Kristen Britain
Published by DAW on November 1st 2007
Genres: Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic, Romance
Pages: 679
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For Karigan G'ladheon, the call of magic in her blood is too strong to resist. Karigan returns to the Green Riders, the magical messengers of the king, to find she's badly needed. Rider magic has become unstable, many Riders have been lost, and the Rider corps is seriously threatened. The timing couldn't be worse. An ancient evil, long dormant, has reawakened, and the world is in peril. Karigan must face deadly danger and complex magic to save the kingdom from certain doom.


The latest installment of Kristen Britain’s Green Rider series is markedly different than others. In the previous entries of the series, The Green Rider and First Rider’s Callheroine Krrigan G’ladheon is what appears to be an ordinary girl who is continually thrust into danger and who manages to scrape by and save the kingdom. She appears to do this almost by sheer willpower or luck. However in The High King’s Tomb, Karrigan is forced to confront the reality that she isn’t any ordinary Rider and to recognize her own growing powers. Unfortunately for her, this personal journey is yet another fraught with danger—complete with sinister new foes, impossible love, and interference of the Gods. 


Hilariously, the very first thing Karigan struggles with in The High King’s Tomb is her inability to stave off a dashing thief known as the Raven Mask while in a corset and high heels. Humiliated by both his resulting flirtation and escape, Karigan is further shamed when revered Arms Master Drent consequently dismisses her as his swordsmanship student. Refusing to accept his dismissal, Karigan enlists the help—and clothing—of a friend and storms down to spar with him in full ladylike attire. It is in moments like these when Karigan shines the most. She is at her most interesting and capable not when she is fighting evil, but when she is dealing with every day circumstances. Like most people around Karigan, Drent is stunned by her daring and agrees to not only accept Krrigan back as his student, but also to train her to fight when dressed like a lady. Equipped not only with her saber in hand, but also with throwing knives strapped to her leg, sharpened hair pins, and a loosened corset, Karigan throws herself into the new training. Unbeknownst to her, these new skills will be put to the test very soon.


But her new training isn’t the only area where Karigan finds herself off balance. Stifled by her helpless feelings for King Zachary and his impending marriage to Lady Estora, Karrigan is more than happy to set off on a newly assigned mission. Even though she is hampered with a hapless new recruit, Fergal—whom she suspects is more trouble than he is worth—Karigan is relieved to distance herself from King Zachary and the love that she knows cannot and more importantly—shouldn’t be. Karigan’s strong moral compass and her resulting refusal to have an affair with her King manage to be both refreshing and extremely disappointing.


I love that Karigan isn’t like many other female characters that pine away for or go back and forth about her love interest. But author Britain has consistently done such a good job at slowly building rapport, mutual respect, and attraction between the two characters that I couldn’t help but crave more. To my dismay, though Karigan and King Zachary think about each other often, their interactions are kept to a bare minimum. Luckily, Karigan and Fergal’s mission is threefold. Tracking down a lost and ancient arcane book, acquiring more of the preternaturally special horses to outfit the Riders, and looking into the disappearance of a fellow rider serving as a spy in the notorious Mirwell is certainly plenty to keep both Karigan and the readers busy. Plus, seeing the headstrong Karigan facing the challenge of mentoring a new rider is enjoyable. And the book is peppered with extremely enjoyable appearances by old faces, both friendly and antagonistic. I loved reading about Estral and the Bayberry sisters again.


But these moments of peace in The High King’s Tomb are few and far apart. A new foe emerges in the form of the sinister and magically gifted Grandmother, who threatens not only the King that Karigan loves, but all that she holds dear. To face this dark new evil and its goal of reawakening Mornhavon the Black, Karigan is forced to confront the fact that she is not like other people—even other magically gifted riders. And when a god gallops into her life in the form of a black stallion, Karigan has no choice but to saddle up and to realize that maybe greatness wasn’t thrust upon her, but something she was born with.


High King’s Tomb is a great addition to the Green Rider series. I recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the other installments of the series, and to fans of fantasy books and strong heroines everywhere.


Posted July 17, 2015 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, Favorite Books

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