Friday, October 06, 2006

Mystic and Rider, by Sharon Shinn

Mystic and Rider is the first in the Saga of the Twelve Houses series. It is set in the land of Gillengaria, a country divided into twelve regions, each of which is ruled by a different noble house. The king has sent a group to investigate the unrest that seems to be growing in Gillengaria. What follows is a tale of political intrigue and religious conflict.

This is the third Sharon Shinn novel I've read. The first was The Safe-Keeper's Secret, which I reviewed earlier. The second was The Truth-Teller's Tale, set in the same world as the first, with much the same feel. Mystic and Rider, on the other hand, has a completely different feel. Where the magic of the other series is subtle, this book has people throwing fireballs and morphing into mountain lions. Pretty in-your-face stuff. And it features the standard cross-country trek found in so many other fantasy novels. In short, this has none of what made the other two books stand out to me.

Fortunately, Mystic is special in its own right. The conflict of choice versus destiny is emphasized throughout the book, as are the themes of tolerance and loyalty. I enjoyed how skillfully they were woven into the story without taking over. Also, the plot seems to be interesting enough to hold up through an entire series, with plenty of opportunities for unexpected twists and turns.

Because this is the first book in a series, a lot of questions were left unanswered. Those unanswered questions lend an air of mystery to the story, but they also leave you hanging at the end. I guess that's OK, but don't expect this book to satisfy you on its own. Unless you hate this first book, you will want to read the next in the series to find out how things are resolved.

4 Stars
4 out of 5 Stars4 out of 5 Stars4 out of 5 Stars4 out of 5 Stars4 out of 5 stars

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