The Bellinghman (bellinghman) wrote,
The Bellinghman

26: C J Cherryh - The Rider at the Gate

Author: C J Cherryh
Title: The Rider at the Gate
Genre: SF
Published: New English Library, 1996
Pages: 423
Purchased: Ex libris (£5.99)
ISBN: 0-340-63828-1

Hundreds of years before, starships arrived and left colonists, but they've not been back since. The world is sparsely populated, and technology isn't much above telephones and radios, trucks and firearms. But there's one particular reason twist that makes this world different: pretty much every native species is telepathic. Not able to project thoughts, but able to send images and emotion, to hide or to deceive.

Oh, and there's a native species that has hooves (albeit three-toed), manes, tails, and people ride them.

Telepathic horses. Oooer, that doesn't sound good. This sounds like Mercedes Lackey's area, or McCaffrey's dragons (she's said that her dragons are horses with wings). But Cherryh's horses are much more horse like, strangely enough. They don't send verbal messages, more images of what they want, or what's scaring them. Or what they want to eat, which tends to be fresh fried bacon.

Oh, yes, they're omnivorous, too. They like people, which is why they let Riders ride them (though harness doesn't seem to be option).

In this book, the hero is a typical Cherryh main character - Danny Fisher, a newish Rider who, out of a noble loyalty to an older man whom he thinks of as a mentor, ends up muddling though and doing the right thing in the face of the scariest thing on the planet, a rogue horse who can cause a whole village to empty and be killed.

If you like Cherryh, you'll probably like this, though the setting (I imagined Montana a lot) is unusual for her. If you don't know her, then I'd suggest you start with something different, because it is relatively light on the excitement and gosh-wow elements.

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