Copyright 1996 by
C. J. Cherryh
I first read this in January 1998.
On an alien world, the life-forms are to varying degrees, telepathic.
Humans have "domesticated" an alien horse-like animal, or perhaps it is
more correct to say that these horses have adopted humanity. Most of the
planet remains unexplored. On the frontier, pioneers live a precarious
and dangerous existence.
It is a rare human who can work with the horses, and link his or her
mind to that of the beast. Those so gifted are largely ostracised by
the small frontier communities, tolerated for their assistance in
protecting convoys and the towns themselves against the predations of
the alien badlands.
Young Danny Fisher is one of these riders. He's new and inexperienced,
and somehow he's found himself trying to save to young boys and their
sister, sole survivors of their village. All others were destroyed during
an invasion of monstrous alien life. The boys, Carlo and Randy Goss
seem nice enough, but far too young for this much suffering. Their sister,
Brionne, is a different matter: too closely involved in the awful events
to be entirely innocent.
Danny has somehow got to control his horse, and the kids and reach the
next town. But they're struggling through an massive storm, the girl is
already dying, the boys are on their last legs, and there may be
something very bad, and very alien, following them.
Well, it's all quite exciting in a long-drawn-out and overly-thoughtful
way. It's as though we're monitoring the mind of a boy as he becomes a
man, but watching it in real-time, with every thought laboriously
It's essentially a wild-west ghost story, and I never want to read
anything like it again. There's just too much moping around, too much
worrying about horses, and far too much worrying in
general, there's even worrying about worrying too much, because it upsets
Now of course, if you like horses, this is probably all wonderfully
Loaded on the 17th February 2002.