Mystic and Rider

Mystic and Rider
by: Sharon Shinn

Series: The Twelve Houses Series, Book 1

Challenges: Once Upon a Time

Published: 2005

# of pages: 421

First of all, I'm sorry to say that the cover of this book is BLAH. It's a picture of the main character, Senneth. I always hate it when cover illustrations of characters don't match up with the descriptions or with the way I imagine them to be. I especially hate ugly character illustrations. Sorry whoever drew that!!

This is the first in a series and boy, what a beginning! The story follows several characters, but the point of view alternates between two characters, Senneth and Tayse. Senneth is a "mystic," someone with magical powers who lives in the kingdom of the Twelve Houses (twelve districts governed by houses of nobility and overall ruled over by the king). She has a variety of powers, but her main power is the gift of fire/heat. Tayse is a king's rider who was commanded by the king to follow Senneth and offer his protection as she carries out the king's mission, as mysterious as that is. Senneth is just as mysterious as her mission, and Tayse finds it hard to trust her although they spend day in and day out together.

Along with Senneth and Tayse, the king's mission is being carried out by Senneth's friend Kirra, a noble lady who is also a mystic and can transform objects into other things and transform herself into different shapes. Donnal is Kirra's bodyguard/boyfriend who is also a mystic and can transform into animal shapes. Justin is another king's rider who was commanded to protect Senneth and her friends. They are belated joined by Cammon, a mystic boy who can sense people's emotions/thoughts that they rescue from slavery in one of the towns they visit.

Mystics are treated with suspicion and sometimes violence in the kingdom and things are getting worse as worshipers of the moon goddess spread lies and malevolence against mystics in the southern houses. The group runs into trouble almost everywhere they go, mainly because of their large number of mystics.

Senneth is an interesting character. She's strong and intelligent and Shinn does a great job of making that come across in her writing. Senneth is a mysterious lady and everything the reader learns about her makes us like her more and more.

My only complaint about this novel is that it is a little too much to be in one book. I would have liked to see a more clear cut rising action/climax/falling action structure. I think the fact that the group was constantly traveling had a lot to do with this. There was either action or nothing because all the characters did between conflicts was travel. I think it would have worked better to leave out some of the conflicts or make this into 2 books.

And last of all, I couldn't help but notice the theme of double letters in names!!! Here's just a few that I noticed and can remember:
Character names:
Place names/Houses:

And that's just a SMALL portion! lol

Anyway, I recommend this to lovers of fantasy and those who are already fans of Shinn's novels (I reviewed The Truth-Teller's Tale a year ago). I think this will appeal more to adults, but don't remember anything particularly unfit for young adults to read.

Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I'd be happy to post yours as well.

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