To Ride A Rathorn
by P.C. Hodgell
Review by Harriet Klausner
Meisha Merlin Publishing, Inc. Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 1592221025
Date: 25 September, 2006 List Price $26.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
On a more mundane level Jame, the sister of the Knorth Highborn Torisen, wants to find a place to belong. Her own father kicked her out because she looked like her dead mother and she had claws instead of nails which signified she was Shanir with Old Blood running in her veins. She survived behind the Barrier but she returned when her brother became Highlord and she found time moved differently in the Perimal Darkling and she is now ten years younger than her twin brother Tori. Her sibling is a weak Highlord because he refuses to believe he is Shanir and the demons from his past interfere with his rule.
He loves his sister but since she doesn't fit in with the ladies of breeding, he names her his London (heir) and sends her to Tentir College where she is to learn war craft. Most people don't want her there and even before she is admitted, pranks, some dangerous, are performed to make her want to quit. During her year at the school, attempts are made on her life; she is visited by haunts and is kidnapped but escapes into the soulscope. Her second in command makes it clear she wants to make the cul at year's end and her brother worries if his sister is inherently evil thanks to the brainwashing of his father.
Jame tries to help her brother but he runs away from her while matchmakers pursue Tori to take a mate. While he frets, Jame realizes that the Rathorn whose mother she killed at the cat's request is coming to kill her because he is filled with anger, pain and loss. Inadvertently, she blood-binds him to her and for her own survival she must help him through the soulscope and the mundane world in order to get him to eat so she can eat too. If she fails they will starve to death and the god won't manifest himself to battle the Dark Perimal.
This saga opened with Dark of the Gods, continued in God Stalk (where Jamie first appeared) and is followed by Seeker's Mask. To Ride A Rathorn is the fourth in the series and although it can be read as a stand alone book, it would be to the audience's advantage to read the previous three novels so that historical events and terminology used in this tale will be fully understood.
Jame's need to belong somewhere and to someone is an obvious self-esteem theme that makes her try too hard to fit in even with her father dead because she wants to please her brother who doesn't know where to place her. He only sends her to Tentir where he wanted to go but was denied the privilege. His inability to completely accept and love his sister for who she is hurts her but she understands that Tori has deep-rooted emotional problems that he has to work through if he wants to become a strong Highlord that rules through strength instead of through traditions.
P.C. Hodgell is a fantastic worldbuilder who has created a world so detailed that readers will be able to visualize it as much as they do earth. There are no great battles or fantastic uses of magic but Jame is both a fully developed character and a symbol of her culture. Her use of the soulscope is an example of magic but she doesn't use any sorcery skills in this tale although she was exposed too much sorcery in the Perimal Darkling and participated in a sword and sorcery battle in Seeker's Mask. To Ride A Rathorn feels like an in-between book where great events do not occur and the characters get on with their everyday lives. The audience will definitely want to read the next book in this fantastic high fantasy series.