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

4.5 out of 5 stars 22 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: 5 x 1.1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,909,310 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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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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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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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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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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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Telepathic Nighthorses are the most powerful creatures on the planet, and partnering with them enable humans to maintain settlements and trade. But a rogue Nighthorse is a fearsome threat, with the power to drive entire settlements mad. There's a lot going on here: four convergent groups of characters, a modicum of worldbuilding based around telepathic bond animals and early winter alien frontierism, and a mystery plot--all written in Cherryh's terse, minute style. Those aspects don't always coalesce--I disliked the aesthetic, rarely cared about the characters's interconnections, and, while the final tableau is effective, the plot's resolution is too simple. But I came to this book for telepathic horses companions, and there it delivers without qualification. The focus is communication: the intimacy of Rider/Nighthorse interactions played to effect against grim winter; the fallout of telepathy, how it forces some intimacies and denies others. The unforgiving and rewarding focus on the (inter)personal is precisely what I wanted from this trope by this author. Rider at the Gate is difficult to recommend, as it's hardly an essential read even for fans of Cherryh--but if you love this trope, it won't disappoint.
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