*I received a free copy of this ebook, with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: If home is where the heart is, then Corrine should reside in the pastures of DeGaunt. As a fosterling to the Duchess, she goes from meek to confident astride the great Warhorses of Ewas.
But life is never just about riding, and Corrine is soon thrust from her life as a merchant’s daughter into the court of Ewas. With scheming Ladies and conservative Lords, she finds herself trapped in a snake pit of court politics. Betrayed, she gains the confidence she needs, along with the friendship of the Queen, Crown Prince, and three Knights, and travels the realm, securing her place in the capital.
Those who have everything always want what they can’t have, and greedy men bring war to Ewas. Can Corrine, with her Riders, bring change to the realm?
Join Corrine, a horse talented young woman, as she journeys through growing up, gaining confidence and shaking up the noble class’s status quo in this full length novel.
I really enjoyed this novel, which is the first in what I hope will be a long-spanning epic fantasy series.
The main draw here is the characterisation and the way in which the author develops the main and side-characters and the novel progresses.
The story follows Corinne as she moves from being the helpless victim of a cruel parent, through intrigue and training, to become a young protégé noblewoman with excellent marriage prospects; then finally through heartbreak to a genuine career of her own and a role as a powerful influencer for political and military events.
Corrine can be a bit of a ‘Mary Sue’ at times: she seems to excel at everything she turns her hand to, and EVERYBODY loves and/or desires her immediately. In fact, the only flaw I noted when reading is that she gets a bit seasick! That said, she does still develop from a naive child to a mature and skilful woman, and the journey between the two is compelling; fraught with physical and emotional peril. I particularly enjoyed how Corrine is neither ‘the Chosen One’, nor gifted with sudden magical powers, but instead has to make her own way using her natural talents and a large helping of determination.
Even better than Corrine are the numerous side-characters who help, or hinder, her along the way: the other riders; the De Gaunt family; the Royal family. I was particularly reminded of d’Artagnan and The Three Musketeers when it came to the adventures and the comradeship between Cory, Axim, Helios and Viggo. Even poor, feckless Maxwell managed to be quite a sympathetic character, despite his many faults!
First Rider is a compelling epic fantasy novel, ideal for fantasy fans and horse fanatics, and I personally cannot wait to see where Corrine’s talents take her next, and whether she is able to improve her personal life as successfully as she did her professional standing.
“Tell me, Baroness. What spell do you weave on the men of this world?” The people in the room gasped.
“Father!” Draken scolded, and even Roselinde leaned to look at her husband.
“It is a valid question.” Corrine called, and the room hushed. “One I do not have an answer to, your Majesty.”
The king stood and moved to stand in front of her, waving off the protests of his wife and son. “Shall I tell you, then?” He walked around the young woman. “You have no question in your loyalty. You are wild, strong willed. Many see such a spirit and demand it be broken.” Corrine gulped, but did not waiver. “You are young, a beauty in your own right. With the friendship of a monarchy, a duchy, and three noblemen. And while you are betrothed, you are not yet claimed.” Viggo growled softly. “Such loyalty is given without hesitation by the riders, my queen and my heir. Each one ready to sacrifice my kingdom for you.”
“Quiet.” He did not yell, but his tone was ice. “You are both a treasured strength to the crown, and a dangerous weakness. Do you understand this?”
Corrine looked him in his eyes. “Yes, Majesty. I would extend an apology, but I do not think it would matter.”
The King smirked. “No, it would not.”
– Samantha Calvert – First Rider
First Rider is available on Amazon right now!