Series: Twelve Houses #1
Genres: fantasy, Romance
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Gillengaria seethes with unrest. In the south, hostility toward magic and its users has risen to a dangerous level, though King Baryn has ordered that such mystics are to be tolerated. It is whispered that he issued the decree because his new wife used her magic powers to ensnare him… The King knows there are those in the noble Twelve Houses who could use this growing dissent to overthrow him. So he dispatches the mystic Senneth to assess the threat throughout the realm. Accompanying her is a motley band of magic-users and warriors including Tayse, first among the King’s Riders—who holds a hard view of mystics in general, and Senneth in particular.
But as the unlikely allies venture farther into the south, they will face death in a land under the sway of a fanatical cult that would purge Gillengaria of all magic users. And they will come to realize that their only hope of survival lies in standing together…
Honestly, it seems silly to be writing this review now. This book, and the others of the Twelve Houses series claim a special spot on my bookshelf. I have read them to the point that I have already replaced them with digital versions for when my paperbacks disintegrate. I pick up this series, and this book in particular, every time I want something to read that I know I will enjoy.
Sharon Shinn’s use of language to convey what she wishes to the reader is amazing. I’m awed by it every time I read these books. She has a masterful way with the concept of “show, don’t tell” that constantly plagues writers. This story is well-written and it seems like the characters move from one end of the country to the other without the constant travel seeming to get in the way. As a matter of fact, it adds to the story as it leads from one conflict to another. Since none of the characters seem to really trust each other, you even have the internal conflict of the main group to contend with. It’s fun to watch the change in Senneth and Tayse as they move through this story. Senneth was one to always remain alone, moving from place to place with no where to really call home, and no one to call true friends. This book is mainly her story, as each of the books in the Twelve Houses series is the story of the other characters in this motley group.
I highly recommend this entire series. I have since gone on to read just about everything Sharon Shinn has written since I stumbled across this book in a bookstore. She has taken place as one of my favorite authors of all time. However, this series will always remain at the top of everything I’ve read by her. There’s just something about the depth and emotions of these characters that keeps dragging me back to read these books again and again.