The book Green Rider is the first book in the Green Rider series. It was first published in 1998.
For a chapter-by-chapter summary, see the Green Rider Chapter Summaries category.
The book opens by introducing the Gray One, a mysterious character who creates a minute crack in the D'Yer Wall. The Wall has stood for a thousand years without sign of wear, and would have stood for thousands more years. Its purpose is to enclose Kanmorhan Vane, or Blackveil forest, and Mornhavon the Black.
Karigan G'ladheon , a merchant's daughter, is cast out of her school in Selium by Dean Geyer following a duel which resulted in her besting a wealthy aristocrat, Timas Mirwell. His family throws a fit and has Karigan kicked out of school.
Running away from the shame of her indefinite suspension, she intends to go home to speak with her father before the dean's letter reaches him. She travels into the forest called the Green Cloak, where she meets a Green Rider (a group of legendary and elite messengers in the King's service) who is dying with two black arrows protruding from his back. The Green Rider, F'ryan Coblebay, has Karigan swear to ride to Sacor City for the "love of her country", and to deliver a message into the hands of the King himself. As he dies, he whispers with his last breath; "Beware the shadow man.".She takes the gold winged horse brooch from his chest, a symbol of his office as a Rider. It is a magical item that has certain powers and works for only the Rider it chooses, and a way for Riders to identify each other.
Karigan, following her promise, rides the Horse (whose real name is Condor) to Sacor City through perilous paths. The Horse appears to have an uncanny ability to navigate the various dangers Karigan encounters, always delivering Karigan to safety, particularly apparent while trying to evade the Shadow Man and soldiers looking for her. She discovers that touching the brooch can grant her invisibility, which she uses to escape. Exhausted, she awakes in the care of the Berry sisters , who feed and clothe her and give her moonstone, a crystal which contains a moonbeam, and other items to aid her in her journey.
Soon after, she is attacked by an unnatural, giant scorpion-like creature from the Kanmorhan Vane. She uses a leaf from a plant the Berry sisters gave her and is aided by Softfeather, a great eagle. The creature and its' hatchlings are killed by Karigan, but the creatures' blood burns and poisons her. Wounded, she passes out, going in and out of consciousness, and sees an Eletian, who heals her of the poison and bandages her wounds.
Karigan is caught by two traitorous Weapons (a special rank given only to the bodyguards of the king), Torne and Jendara . They are working for Amilton, King Zachary's older brother. Being the eldest, Amilton was expected to inherit the throne. However, to the shock of everyone, the King named Zachary his heir. Amilton was still governor of their home region, Hillander Province, but eventually even lost that as well and was exiled. Governor Mirwell, leader of the Mirwell clan, and also the father of the boy that Karigan beat in school, seeks to replace Zachary with Amilton. The Weapons take Karigan and truss her up, and travel with her, proclaiming her to be a captured criminal. She eventually escapes, killing Garroty when he tries to rape her. Torne returns to find Garroty dead and Jendara unconscious, and believes Karigan responsible for Jendara as well. He draws his sword to kill her, but Karigan's body is filled with the ghost of F'ryan Coblebay, and he guides her movements, allowing her to defeat Torne. Throughout her journey, the ghost of F'ryan Coblebay follows her, urging her on and providing help when desperately needed. When she is found by the Shadow Man again just before she gets to Sacor City, the ghosts of other Riders also aid Karigan on the Wild Ride, a magical aid that allows her to travel many miles in a matter of seconds/minutes.
When she reaches Sacor City, she delivers both letters, but isn't trusted because of her sudden appearance and lack of an explanation. To everyone's dismay (as they were expecting news), the letter appears to contain outdated, unimportant intel. Shawdell , and Eletian, comes to Sacoridia to court alliances with King Zachary. He makes many promises to King Zachary, though the king does not fully trust him.
The second seemingly less important letter was a love letter to the beautiful Lady Estora. Estora, confused by inaccuracies in the letter, approaches Karigan, who takes the letter to Captain Mapstone.The love letter is decoded by Captain Mapstone to reveal that Zachary's brother, Amilton, would attempt to take the throne from Zachary by force, with help from Mirwell, on the day of the King's annual spring hunt, and that there is an Eletian that cannot be trusted.
The King and his company are ambushed on the spring hunt by groundmites, killing many of the group. Captain Mapstone arrives with her Riders and fight off the remaining groundmites, though most die or are wounded. Karigan begins to duel with Shawdell, and uses her moonstone as a sword, the blade of moonlight a match for Shawdell's dark sword. Karigan breaks Shawdell's sword, and slashes his middle. He retreats, badly wounded, and the moonbeam fades away, until she only holds clear crystal fragments in her palm.
The cavalry arrives, only being of use tending their wounded and burying the dead. While they are in the valley, Amilton's army has taken the castle. The Castellan, Crowe, has also turned traitor and let Amilton inside the gates. Karigan's father, Stevic G'ladheon, is also in the castle, having gone there in search of her. Karigan sneaks in alone, using invisibility, to the throne room. Her father, seeing her near invisible in the torchlight, believes her dead, but Jendara realizes the truth and begins to hunt her.
Fastion, a Weapon, finds her and binds her wounds. He then leads her out of the castle, to tell Zachary to meet him by the Heroes Portal, an entrance to the Hall of the Dead. Several Weapons have been assigned to guard the Hall of the Dead, and so were forgotten by Amilton when he took over the castle. They join the King's group, while Captain Mapstone disguises herself as Shawdell, and pretends to take Zachary's "head" and crown to Amilton. Zachary and the others burst out of a hidden passage, and challenge Amilton. Shawdell begins to take possession of Amilton, feeding off of him like a parasite. Karigan breaks the link between them by destroying a black stone pendant that Amilton wore. When she awakes, she is in a white world... And sees many things that "might be". She finds Shawdell and Amilton playing a game of Intrigue, a game like chess but with 2 or 3 players. She destroyes the game and wakes up again in the real world, just as she smashes the stone. Amilton dies, and Shawdell fades in a puff of smoke.
King Zachary is able to reclaim his throne, and things seem to be peaceful again. Captain Mapstone tries unsuccessfully to convince Karigan to stay on as a Green Rider, as Karigan believes her place is to follow in her father's footsteps as a merchant. She wants to return home, and in the end, she does.