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Download Rider at the Gate (Nighthorse, Book 1) epub

by C.J. Cherryh

Stranded on a distant planet that abounds with fertile farmland, human colonists appear to be in paradise. But all the native animals communicate by telepathy, projecting images that drive humans mad. Only Nighthorses stand between civilization and madness. When a flare of human emotion spreads to all the horses, chaos erupts.
Download Rider at the Gate (Nighthorse, Book 1) epub
ISBN: 0446603457
ISBN13: 978-0446603454
Category: Fantasy
Subcategory: Science Fiction
Author: C.J. Cherryh
Language: English
Publisher: Aspect; First Printing edition (September 1, 1996)
ePUB size: 1774 kb
FB2 size: 1837 kb
Rating: 4.6
Votes: 817
Other Formats: azw doc docx lrf

The two books of this series (this is the first) are two of the most powerful books of the SciFi genre I have ever read. And I have been a follower of this genre for more than 50 years. The authors characters are believable ones ... people that you could wish were real, you find yourself liking them so well. The scenarios built are ones so believably real that your heart beats hard with the terror the characters are experiencing. The political machinations are those that one sees us pitiful humans committing every day. And what is human is defined by showing us what is not. The love and personal commitment the characters show one another will bring tears to your eyes while the "bad guys" are shown to have their own "reasonable" justifications for doing what they do ... they are not one sided characters that one loves to hate. This author, with more than 60 books under her belt belongs in the halls of the great masters of our times as she is one of THE most powerful writers in existence.
[I rate this 4.5 stars.]

C.J. Cherryh's writing, like Mozart's music, has a consistent feel that easily identifies the author after a few brief passages. In Cherryh's case there's always external conflict that's amplifying the internal conflict in the characters' minds. Anguished thoughts bouncing around inside the protagonist's skulls and inadequate words failing to bridge the gaps separating their different viewpoints are a hallmark of her novels. Usually there are mundane reasons for the communication failures such as different backgrounds, ages, and levels of maturity. In "Rider at the Gate" Cherryh provides a more intrinsic reason to throttle understanding between the people involved.

On the unnamed planet where the story is set the native fauna are telepathic. Predators sniff out the mental odor of their prey. The higher up the food chain you go, the more telepathic tricks the animals employ. At the top of the chain are the nighthorses. who can project their presence where they're not, or fabricate a completely different landscape from the one your eyes perceive. When they first encountered human colonists the nighthorses were delighted to be around humans' higher-level though processes; telepathically, humans just smelled good. And while their inability to cope with telepathic local animals quickly knocked the bulk of the colonists back to scattered fortified settlements and circa-1900 technology, those who bonded with nighthorses were able to move through the wilderness relatively easily.

The bond with nighthorses comes with a price, of course. Because humans can't transmit telepathically themselves, their nighthorse-mediated communication is filtered through the alien mindsets of their telepathic companions. Lacking much concern for past or future in their conceptual framework, the nighthorses use their human riders to remember such things and give the nighhorses a broader perspective. And while the riders have greatly improved survival prospects, they struggle to communicate with other humans. To keep from spooking the horses the riders constantly damp down their emotions, and keep their concentration strictly on present concerns. The mental conditioning that makes for a good rider also results in a human who doesn't play well with others.

"Rider at the Gate" begins with a message of great emotional impact: a rider and her horse have been killed, spooked by a rogue nighthorse. Just this single message, amplified by a camp of nighthorses, is enough to lead to near-riot conditions in the large town of Shamesey. Danny Fisher, a local boy newly bonded with a horse named Cloud, is both part of the cause and one of the victims of this panic. Feeling he has a debt to pay, Danny volunteers to help hunt down the rogue nighthorse.

I won't go into greater detail and spoil the story (which continues with "Cloud's Rider", although "Rider at the Gate" stands on its own just fine). It's a story of understanding attained with great effort and personal sacfifice -- the typical finely crafted novel that's typically Cherryh.
I read this book when it first came out, and recently bought it again because I liked it so much the first time. (For the record, I loaned the book out years ago and never got it back.) The author, C. J. Cherryh, is known for delving into the psychological depths of her characters, and this book excels at that. The narrative touches on parts of the human experience that many do not wish to explore. Are we good, or are we evil? Can we be both? I like this book because it lays bare some core emotions capable of reaching us all.
SUPERB!!! Loved the first book and love this one even more!!! Characters you can believe in dealing with terrifying new world populated by mind bending creatures, terror and excitement!!! COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN!!!!
I am only too happy that I now own this book. I first found this book in my local library and really enjoyed the Nighthorse world and Cloud's story. Time to reread!
Cherryh's "Rider at the Gate" and "Cloud's Rider" are part of her experiment with the Western genre. However, the author is doing more than placing cowboys in space or creating a "Wagon Train in the stars" or costuming a la Han Solo or "Firefly", in fact, she has invented a new High Plains Drifter and a society dependent on upon him. This stories are also an exploration of the nature of telepathic societies and its relationship with the mindblind.

Both stories pivot around the relationship of the cowboys and their "horses". However, these are not your normal equines, rather, they are alien four-legged carnivores with telepathic abilities. Nor are they beast of burdens but intelligent beings who choose to enter symbiotic relationships with their riders. This symbiosis has enabled humans to survive on a planet where all fauna have evolved telepathy as an adaptive mechanism.

The stories are exciting and action driven, and, in fact, more violent than C.J.'s normal work - this is the Wild West re-envisioned in the stars after all. Culture clash is as always the point and in these books it is literally on everybody's mind. As always the author delivers the goods.