by Kristen Britain
Publication: September 14, 2021
Series: Green Rider #7
**I was provided a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**
Winterlight reminds me why I have followed the Green Rider series for over 20 years, even though it’s scarcely been that long in the Green Rider universe. Britain makes it easy to slip back into the series and return to Sacoridia as if hardly any time has passed since Firebrand was published in 2017. With so many events spanning six books, multiple moments are scattered throughout the over 800 pages as memories. I found the abundance of references helpful, and they contributed to a sense that the series was coming to an end. Winterlight is, after all, supposed to be the penultimate book in the series.
Events set in motion from prior books, specifically those dealing with Second Empire, make up a significant portion of the novel. Characters from past books make a few appearances. I was disappointed that Fastion, who I grew to adore, hardly had any scenes. Estral and Alton show up as well but are limited in their appearances. There are also several new riders. Ripaeria the eagle–the very first Green Flyer–steals all her scenes. She is my favorite new character, and I need her to show up more often in the next book. Many things are happening at once in different parts of the world, including the castle, the wall, Eletia, and a newer location, Eagle Crossing. Like prior books, chapters jump from one character to the next to provide a more holistic view of everything happening, but I ultimately wanted more Karigan. There are so many moving parts, but they all appear connected in some way, like they’re leading up to something bigger, potentially finally facing off against Mornhaven. However, I’m not really sure. Mornhaven was always set up to be the main antagonist, but he’s often been absent, except for glimpses here and there, that a final faceoff doesn’t seem definitive. This patchwork of events begins to close some loose ends, leaves some open, and even creates opportunities for others, but all contribute to the feeling that the end is close at hand.
In Winterlight, Karigan is not off on a long journey by herself nor tasked with a job that ends up being more than she bargained. For the most part, she is surrounded by her peers, but in some ways, she’s more alone than she has been in the past because of the struggles she faces here. Having parted ways with Envers in the last book, she’s slowly returning home alone when things go awry, as they usually do for her. It leads to a series of events that eventually lead her back to the castle. Winterlight might be one of the first times I can remember that Karigan performs the role of a traditional messenger and delivers messages back and forth, considering she’s never been a “normal” messenger.
More than the impending conflict with Second Empire, the book centers around Karigan’s physical and mental struggles. She is still recovering from the effects of being tortured at the hands of Nyssa, better known to us as Grandmother. While the physical pain is slowly mending, it’s the mental trauma along with the presence of Nyssa that continues to impede her healing. Nyssa haunts her, sowing new fears and nurturing old ones. Karigan is vulnerable, battling what’s inside her head, and doesn’t seek help when it’s clear she can use it. This was a missed opportunity to showcase that individuals struggling with mental health do not have to face it alone, that even heroes like Karigan can use a helping hand.
I continue to be disappointed with the romance, mostly because Karigan deserves better, more than the lack of a relationship she is currently in. Even as potential suitors are presented, it continues to be emphasized that she loves just this one person. I would much prefer her with someone else. I’m a hopeless romantic who prefers a somewhat uncomplicated HEA and, unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the series will deliver that to me.
Winterlight is a welcomed addition to the series. The worldbuilding remains tightly woven as with all previous books–I’m even including the less than well-received Mirrorsight because there were things I liked from it as well.. Just when you think you know whatever there is about the world, there seems to be more. The Green Rider universe appears limitless, leaving room for more adventures even if Karigan’s arc should end. New characters appear and old ones are remembered. At times, the book feels like a return to the first three books–my favorites of the series. There are several subplots and more than a few are left open, likely to be pursued in the next book.