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Rider at the Gate (Nighthorse, Book 1) Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 1996

18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Rider at the Gate is the first in a two-book series chronicling the existence of human colonists stranded on a planet whose only native life forms are linked by telepathy, sending sensory images to one another enhanced by powerful emotions. One of these species, the "nighthorse," befriends the humans, and together they form a bond of mutual protection--the nighthorses guard their riders against the planet's mind-clouding predators, while the humans provide them with food and shelter. Once matched, the two experience a companionship more profound than either has ever known before. The story continues in Cloud's Rider. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In this perceptive and carefully crafted coming-of-age novel, humans share a remote and arduous world with telepathic fauna who communicate their instincts and desires to receptive colonists. Chief among the beasts that seek out companionship with humans are the nighthorses, who enter into a near-symbiotic relationship with their chosen partners, who become the riders and protectors of the world's isolated villages and the convoys needed to supply them. When Guil Stuart's lover, Aby Dale, is killed while guarding one such convoy, the rider sets out in a frenzy with his nighthorse, Burn, to avenge her death. While townsfolk urge that he be killed, three ostensible friends set out to find and help him, accompanied by novice rider Danny Fisher. A town boy sought out by the nighthorse Cloud, Danny was raised to fear and to hate communion with the beasts, which were reviled by the preachers, and was guided in his adjustment to rider life by the older, rider-bred Stuart. Also following Stuart into the wild is Ancel Harper, an old enemy with an obscure and dangerous grudge. Cherryh never overwhelms the narrative with exposition, skillfully unfolding her society of humans and aliens so that the reader gradually understands past events and present situations.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Aspect (September 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446603457
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446603454
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,674,876 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I've written sf and fantasy for publication since 1975...but I've written a lot longer than that. I have a background in Mediterranean archaeology, Latin, Greek, that sort of thing; my hobbies are travel, photography, planetary geology, physics, pond-building for koi...I run a marine tank, can plumb most anything, and I figure-skate.

I believe in the future: I'm an optimist for good reason---I've studied a lot of history, in which, yes, there is climate change, and our species has been through it. We've never faced it fully armed with what we now know, and if we play our cards right, we'll use it as a technological springboard and carry on in very interesting ways.

I also believe a writer owes a reader a book that has more than general despair to spread about: I write about clever, determined people who don't put up with situations, not for long, anyway: people who find solutions inspire me.

My personal websites and blog: http://www.cherryh.com
http://www.cherryh.com/WaveWithoutAShore
http://www.closed-circle.net

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Terri B. on October 3, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
C.J. Cherryh is well known for her ability to develop wonderful ecosystems for the worlds she creates. Even though her worlds are fantastical, they always speak to what is most human. In Rider at the Gate and its sequel Cloud's Rider, Cherryh does not disappoint. We get a mostly recognizable landscape inhabited by previously starfaring humans and the native telepathic fauna. Among the native fauna of this unnamed planet is the fierce and intelligent nighthorse. Nighthorses are curious and addicted to the thoughts and emotions of the human mind and often choose a particular human to be a "rider." The symbiotic relationship that develops between nighthorse and rider is a strong connection meant to be mutually beneficial but sometimes results in a pairing of devastating proportions. Within this alien system Cherryh builds a beautiful coming of age story that captures the often painful and baffling aspects that accompany the human journey to adulthood -- desparate feelings of longing, loneliness and a desire to be independent yet "fit in."

Cherryh is known to take quite a bit of time developing her story and I suggest patience when starting this set. I didn't feel completely drawn into the story until about page 150 of the first book, but after that point couldn't put the books down.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 22, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I love the nighthorse books. I am devoted to my horses, and although we have a pretty good bond, I wish we had the same communication as these horses and riders.But I would prefer to stick with their diet of hay. I can't picture a barn full of bacon.. I bought the hardback edition of Cloud's Rider as soon as it was published. The only other author I buy in hardback is Dorothy Dunnett. I am anxiously waiting for the next nighthorse book and all of those that follow.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By G. E. Williams VINE VOICE on February 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
What a great story! Imagine you are a colonist to America in the 16th century, and that bears can make themselves invisible. Every time you step outside you could be eaten and you'd never know until it started. That is what this snowy world is like. Another believable planet and another amazingly logically built culture that fits the enviornment. A wonderful story about courage ,honor and love. Ms. Cherryh also shows again her love for horses.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 21, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have been a reader of Fantasy/Sci Fi for a very long time and I was a bit skeptical to start something that was an old game with the telepathy and other animals.

This novel shocked me and swept me off my feet. Not only is it more realistic form of telepathy (the animals are not the heroes and Cherryh does not pretend to underline that) but the world explodes in your eyes, ears, your nose and your well being.

Cherryh's writing is unmatched as far as her style. She really plays with the words and phrases in such a way that she makes you feel everything around you.

In this book you get Cherryh's writing, great ecology, genuine charactes,impeccable plot, and a heck of a mystery with a twist.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Henry Perkins on January 3, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
[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.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 12, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
C.J. Cherryh has created a world populated by both people and creatures that both fascinate and terrorize at the same time. Her writing style in protraying the telepathic link between humans and nighthorses as well as her world and character build up creates a novel that has the reader feeling as if they were there. While most writers would just descripe the weather in passing Cherryh makes you feel the cold blast of winter winds and snow down your collar and the strugle to put one foot in front of the other. As for the terror and suspense of the novel she delivers the same quality of writing making the reader shiver not from the cold but from the feeling that it is happening to them. Where some writers have a hard time developing just one basic plot, Cherryh gives due time and effort to all of her plot lines greatly increasing the depth of the novel as she overlays, merges and sometimes plot twits them. This is a definite must read page turning novel.
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