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Mystic and Rider (The Twelve Houses, Book 1) Mass Market Paperback – February 28, 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars 80 customer reviews
Book 1 of 5 in the Twelve Houses Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

While not as original as Shinn's popular Archangel trilogy, this first of four in the Twelve Houses series, set in the land of Gillengaria, is tailor-made for the growing audience of fantasy fans who like a good juicy romance. Elderly King Baryn sits on a shaky throne, wed to a strange childless queen, and hides his only heir, a daughter. To investigate rumors that Gillengaria's southern noble houses are plotting revolt and fostering a pogrom against mystics born with supernatural powers, Baryn sends out five diverse individuals: Senneth, a female mystic who commands fire; Kirra, an aristocratic healer and shape-changer; Kirra's shape-shifting servant, Donnal; and Tayse and Justin, two elite King's Riders deeply distrustful of mystics. After rescuing the boy Cammon (an orphan empath) and a raelynx (a savage cat), the party undergoes increasingly perilous adventures while a disturbing attraction between Senneth and Tayse builds into profound and forbidden love. Shinn's spellbinding characterizations, especially that of the hard-bitten Tayse, who loses his heart to the powerful yet vulnerable Senneth, animate this familiar parade of shifting political alliances and disparate adventurers who gradually bond. Shinn's complicated pantheon of gods fallen mostly into disregard, a plethora of unsolved puzzles and ample promise of her characters' lives "changed by love" in future installments make for a rich beginning.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gillengaria abounds in magic, yet its mystics, the carriers of magic, aren't well regarded. Tolerated in the North by royal order, in the South they're feared, even hated. Lately it appears that organized riders are attacking and murdering mystics. To verify and assess the situation, King Baryn dispatches fire mystic Senneth to the South. With her are foremost King's Rider Tayse; Baryn's shape-changing mystic daughter, Kirra; Kirra's mystic servant, Donnal; scrappy street-urchin-turned-Rider Justin, whose only lost fight was with Tayse; and orphaned Cammon, found serving ale in a tavern, who Senneth suspects is a mystic. They make a tension-filled group, especially because Justin is hostile to mystics and Tayse is uneasy around Senneth. Much of the book concerns their learning to trust and accept one another, and to work together. Pressing deeper into dangerous territory, they hear that the southern king's new, mystic wife has bewitched him, and a moon-goddess cult bent on eradicating mystics is suddenly popular. It's all too clear that, when the 12 ruling houses begin choosing sides, civil war could be the upshot. Clean, elegant prose is, as usual, one of the joys of a Shinn novel, and here it conjures entirely likable major characters and an interesting group-development narrative. Never tripping over the plot twists and complications, Shinn gives us an easy, absorbing, high-quality read sans gratuitous bloodshed and violence. Paula Luedtke
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 421 pages
  • Publisher: Ace Books; 1st edition (February 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441013031
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441013036
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,002,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Sophia VINE VOICE on June 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In "Mystic and Rider," Sharon Shinn introduces her readers to a new fantasy series. This book covers the journey of a rather strained party of travelers, four magically-gifted "mystics" and two King's riders who are assigned to protect them, as they move through the kingdom, trying to discern if rebellion or other issues are surfacing.

The book is definitely predictable. I had figured out several key plot devices well before the major characters did. It is also derivative: other authors have covered the "hate and fear magicians" topic before. However, I am still giving it five stars, because the plot is enjoyable, the characters are believable and interesting, and the world-building is great. I especially enjoyed that both Tayse and Sennath are very strong, but also very vulnerable at the same time. The villains are dangerous, irritating, and fanatical, but very believable. I also enjoyed watching the gradual evolution of the characters and their relationships with each another. I'm definitely looking forward to the next installment.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm opting to give this book four stars, simply because the ending was satisfying and I did enjoy reading it. There were some flaws though that irritated me throughout the way, and I was very disappointed in Shinn's writing style (her Archangel series seems to be very popular, and although I haven't read it, from the way I've seen her work described I expected better).

First off, it was very predictable. Not in the just-like-every-other-fantasy sense, although it wasn't anything terribly new, but I often found myself rolling my eyes since it would be obvious what happened next. I got the sense of just being strung along on a series of mediocre adventures with all obvious outcomes.

It took me about halfway through the book to actually bond with some of the characters, and it was not even close to the bonds I've felt with characters from other books (maybe its a problem, but I can really grow attached to a character if they're written right). I'm sure your meant to, since there are situations meant for just a thing, but it just doesn't work. For example, Tayse (the hero) stops talking to Senneth (the heroine) for ridiculous reasons. I understood why, in a sense, but I felt like I was missing a whole lot to make me actually relate to him. I get the feeling that Shinn was grasping at straws to create conflict between her main characters.

Despite all that, I was relatively happy closing this book. The loose ends were tied up fairly well considering this is the first book in the series, and I'll be able to wait patiently for the next book to come out. But maybe that isn't such a good thing, since some of the best books I've read keep me aching for the next chapter. I recommend this book as a light read, and if you go into it with few expectations I'm sure you'll enjoy it. It is definetly not a bad book, but it simply lacks what I want out of epic romantic fantasy. But who knows? This is just the beginning.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Mystic and Rider (2005) is the first Fantasy novel in The Twelve Houses series. Gillengaria is ruled by a king, but the Marlords of the Twelve Houses control most of the land and commerce. If the king dies without heirs, a new king will be chosen from the Twelve Houses.

Mystics in Gillengaria have various talents and are often distrusted and even hated due to these unusual abilities. Senneth is a mystic, but different from all others whom she knows. She can control fire, bathing herself in it if she wishes, a daughter of the sun goddess.

Senneth is sometimes called the King's Mystic since she started doing missions for him. This time she has other mystics with her, Kirra and Donnal, who are shapeshifters, and Cammon, who is a sensitive. She is also accompanied by two King's Riders, who do not trust her at first.

In this novel, Senneth's party takes a side excursion into Dormas to free Cammon from indenture. His family had been overseas when his father died. He and his mother took ship to return to Gillengaria, but she died enroute. The ship's captain sold him to a tavern keeper to pay for their passage.

Once freed and escorted safely away from the town, Senneth starts teaching Cammon ways to use his mystical abilities. He begins to notice that he can perceive things without the use of his normal senses. Although Senneth has duties to perform at the present, she decides to introduce Cammon to some of her sensitive friends as soon as possible.

In a small town, the group discovers a strange phenomenon. Something is killing small animals and even a child and a passed out drunk. Senneth recognizes something familiar in the situation.
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Format: Hardcover
A party of very disparate people are roaming the kingdom on a mission for the King. Two of them are King's Riders, legendary warriors totally loyal to the King, and three are Mystics, magic users who are tolerated in the capital, but are looked at with suspicion by many, particularly in the southern kingdom, where the party is finding rumors of discontent and possible civil war and treachery. The leader of the party is Senneth, a woman with a mysterious past who is a powerful Mystic who can control fire and work some other kinds of magic, and who has the ear of the King, much to the consternation of the two distrustful Riders. With her is Kirra, a beautiful young noblewoman, who is also a Mystic, but protected by her powerful father who leads one of the Twelve Houses of the Kingdom. She is a shapeshifter, and so is the fifth person, a male servant/guard/companion, who is also a shape-changer. Despite their clashing personalities, they have a similar goal--to serve the king--and they work surprisingly well together, at the start, picking up a sixth member--a boy who is a Mystic. Senneth seems to have a heart for gathering strays, so he joins their group, saved from a life of servitude and danger as a lone Mystic. As their adventures continue, they gradually bond--very gradually! But that's part of the fun. They face a powerful noblewoman who has founded a fanatical religious order that is intent on wiping out Mystics, and her brother, a treacherous nobleman who blatantly schemes to take the crown. Along the way the party gets to know each other... even Senneth gradually has to give up her deepest secrets. I enjoyed seeing this odd party clash and bond. Their adventures weren't earth-shatteringly unique, but the world and the magic is interesting and looks to be a great place for more adventures that I'll happily follow.
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