Rider at the Gate
C.J. Cherryh
book reviews:
· general fiction
· chick lit/romance
· sci-fi/fantasy
· graphic novels
· nonfiction
· audio books

Click here for the curledup.com RSS Feed

· author interviews
· children's books @
· DVD reviews @

win books
buy online


for authors
& publishers

for reviewers

click here to learn more

Get *Rider at the Gate* delivered to your door! Rider at the Gate
C.J. Cherryh
Aspect/Warner Books
Hardcover (also in paperback)
Copyright 1995
437 pages
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

previous reviewnext review

Being prolific doesn't necessarily equal excellence for novel writers. In C.J. Cherryh's case, however, prolific excellence is anything but an oxymoron. The author of more than 30 novels (including the Chanur cycle, Tripoint and Cyteen) and winner of multiple awards, Cherryh proves once again with Rider at the Gate why she is a mainstay of quality science fiction. Convincing, fleshed-out characterization, a keen sense of dramatic pacing and vivid world-building make this novel a must-read.

Curled Up With a Good BookOn a world where the telepathic abilities of the native fauna pose a serious threat to the mental well-being of the humans descended from long-ago colonists, only the Riders possess any sort of protection from the potential madness of the Wild. A handful of humans chosen by the alien Nighthorses, the Riders accompany caravans of supplies and deliver goods between the walled towns where all other humans find a modicum of safety from the insanity-inducing projections of the creatures of the Wild. Danny Fisher is a young Rider with a young Nighthorse companion, Cloud. Danny has his hands full learning to control both himself and his stubborn, high-strung Nighthorse, as well as trying to keep his bond with Cloud from ripping his family apart. Most humans (not including Riders) hold a religious view that the telepathy of the creatures of the Wild -- Nighthorses and their Riders included -- is the siren song of the Devil, and that any who heed that call are damned. While Danny's family appreciates the extra money Danny's Riding brings in, they are loath to acknowledge its source.

When a Rider wintering in Danny's town, Guil Stuart, hears of the death of his partner and lover on a high mountain pass, his pain and anger spread through the collective consciousness of the town like wildfire. Guil is forced from the shaken town at gunpoint and, wounded and without supplies, he sets off into the white winds of winter to seek out and destroy the rogue Nighthorse that caused the death of his partner and her mare. Danny's youthful lack of telepathic control and his respect for Guil form a faint link between him and the wounded Rider, and Danny sets off with the kin and final companions of Guil's partner to find Guil and help him destroy the dangerous rogue Nighthorse somewhere up in the mountains.

Bitter rivalries, long-buried until now, will bring Guil's enemies on the chase right behind Danny's group. While the rogue sends madness and death into settlements on the mountain, Danny is torn between his desire to help Guil and his wish to flee ill-treatment at the hands of Guil's supposed "friends." Guil and his sardonic Nighthorse Burn will find out that there is more to his partner's death and life than he ever imagined, and his discoveries will increase the stakes of this manhunt through the unforgiving winter of the Wild.

C.J. Cherryh is something very near a genius when it comes to suspenseful pacing. The immediacy of the telepathic ambient created by man and Nighthorse means that every thought must be a cautious one. A sudden flare of anger in one person can create a blindingly fast epidemic of violence in the vulnerable and volatile human settlements. Cherryh captures that sense of always treading on thin ice brilliantly. Rider at the Gate stands as a pillar of quality in the subgenre of soft sci-fi.

Other books by C.J. Cherryh:

Buy *Rider at the Gate* online
click here for more info
Click here to learn more about this month's sponsor!

fiction · sf/f · comic books · nonfiction · audio
newsletter · free book contest · buy books online
review index · links · · authors & publishers

site by ELBO Computing Resources, Inc.