Tuesday, 23 June 2009
The Twelve Houses Series by Sharon Shinn
Mystic and Rider
The Thirteenth House
Dark Moon Defender
Reader and Raelynx
Fortune and Fate
The land of Gillengaria is a fictional land is ruled by a king, but is divided into 12 Noble Houses, who effectively rule their lands like States. Gillengaria is facing instability in its lands. A few of the Houses, one in particular, crave more power than they already have and begin to cause unrest and plot a coup, citing the king’s lack of suitable heir and his support of the much despised Mystics, or people who possess magic as a reason. Additionally, the lesser nobles of the Thirteenth House, those indirectly related to the twelve houses, are also becoming unsatisfied with their lot and desire more land and more power and begin their own insurrection. Finally, Coralinde Gisseltess, sister to one of the unsatisfied Nobles, incites unrest by condemning the Mystics as abominations and establishing a convent for those dedicated to the eradication of mystics.
The king, realizing the danger his country is in, sends out two riders and three mystics to gather information. The group picks up a fourth mystic on the way, who becomes a great asset. Throughout the series, the group travels the country spying and reporting back to the king and helping him to set up his strategies and defense. Each book concentrates on a different one of the six characters and their particular story. Magic, intrigue, war and romance are the main themes; all of which are balanced well enough to give the stories a fairly well rounded feel, i.e. they don’t become top heavy with one subject or the other.
Although the series is effectively over after the fourth book, there is a fifth which is something of a post-qual. While you get glimpses into the lives of the previous characters, the main story revolves around one of the minor characters in the first four books. I was afraid the book might lose out with the loss of characters I really liked, but it was possibly the best written of all of them. The only criticism I have is that it’s a little heavy on romance for my taste. Still, that didn’t detract from the story and I still really enjoyed the book.
If you like fantasy and magic, you should enjoy this series. The characters are so likable that you care about what happens to them. The plots are also fairly intriguing with twists and turns, some foreseeable, some not. The series is a pleasant read and good for times when you want Comfort Reading, i.e. something fun and easy to read. I went through the series fairly rapidly and will probably read them again down the line.