Riders (Riders #1)

Title: Riders

Author: Veronica Rossi

Series: Riders #1

Gideon has one mission in life: join the Army, make the Rangers, and serve his country in the same division his father did, back in the day. But when a routine jump goes wrong and leaves him briefly dead, life stops making sense. He wakes up with far fewer injuries than he should have, with a  bracelet he can’t remove, and with freaky people (are they people?) trying to kill him. Then he learns he’s a manifestation of one of the four horseman of the Apocalypse: War. And he and the other horsemen have a new mission . . .

I loved this. I went in totally blind—random browsing at the library—and was intrigued enough at the beginning to take it home to see how it unfolded.

I wouldn’t have thought a story about the four horsemen could work so WELL, but it does. Gideon is military through and through, and his OCD-ness and intensity are so much a part of him he hardly notices it (everyone else does, and Marcus in particular does NOT appreciate it). He’s obsessed with tactics, strategy, and chain of command (his meeting with Deryn, where he’s trying to figure out how she ranks in relation to him, is particularly amusing). And he has, as might be expected from War, a few issues with anger. His narration is full of little observations that left me in stitches.

“My team – an actor, a drunk, and a sociopath – didn’t exactly inspire confidence.”

The other horsemen are just as much fun. Marcus and Gideon have such an instant-hate relationship it’s amusing to watch them try to behave as part of the same team. Bastian is the easygoing peacemaker—who can ironically put any of the other horsemen down if he has to. (Gideon can’t get over the fact that he sucks so badly at fighting when he’s had LESSONS.) Jode would rather delve into history than work out present day training.

A good chunk of the story follows Gideon and the others discovering and attempting to master the various powers that come with their new roles. I liked the way the original vision was reinterpreted: Famine’s scales and Conquest’s bow in particular. And it was fascinating how some of their powers were less a tool against the enemy and more a reflection of themselves.

And of course there are the horses. Gideon’s relationship with his ranges from hysterical to touching. His horse is big, aggressive, and often literally on fire. To say Gideon has no idea how to handle this is an understatement. The horses have a good set of powers of their own, but in other ways they’re still horses. It’s funny to watch how the horsemen start getting as competitive about their mounts as a group of guys might about various types of cars.

I was a bit mad about the ending (THERE HAD BETTER BE A SEQUEL—and no, I’m not talking about the last few lines, but what happened before that). But the actual battle was great. The writing made it easy to visualize everything that happened. I was also surprised (and a bit disappointed) that Gideon had to cope with that last injury, although it made some other things that happened especially touching.

Highly Recommended.

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