A review by tachyondecay
Rider at the Gate by C.J. Cherryh

Did not finish book. Stopped at 20%.
It has been over a year since I DNFed a book, and that’s a statistic I am pleased with. I am afraid that C.J. Cherryh, despite being recognized as a titan of science fiction, might be one of those authors whose books just don’t work for me. My other outing, The Paladin was all right but didn’t leave me astonished the way I hope most of my science fiction and fantasy does. I picked up Rider at the Gate and its sequel at the same time from the used bookstore—but I won’t be reading the sequel. I couldn’t get through this one, and that’s OK.

Classically, the original Star Trek series was described as “Wagon Train to the Stars”—a western in space. Rider at the Gate taps into exactly this motif. If that works for you—if you’re into westerns with a patina of science fiction layered over it—then you might enjoy this book. Unfortunately, I don’t really like westerns all that much, and it takes a lot of science fiction (like Killjoys or Defiance) to make it palatable to me, and that doesn’t happen here.

It also doesn’t help that the protagonist is a very horny teenage boy. (I guess Cherryh knows her target audience?) I noted this in my review of The Paladin: Cherryh’s writing style is heavy on description and exposition and light on dialogue. This makes these novels, not all that long, quite dense. If you are enjoying the happenings, then that’s ideal. Since I was not, it felt … interminable.

Suffice it to say, Rider at the Gate is not for me. That doesn’t make it bad, which is why I chose to DNF it instead of trudge onwards and give it an unhelpful rating. I don’t want to discourage anyone from picking up Cherryh if you think her books will be for you, but I am now wise enough to recognize when I am not getting the return I want on my reading time.

Originally posted at Kara.Reviews.