Senneth has been tasked by her king to travel the length of Gillengaria to determine the mood of the nobles and people of his kingdom. Rumors of a rebellion have reached the capitol and he’s concerned. With her travels two of his men, the King’s Riders, Tayse and Justin. Kirra Danalustrous and her constant companion Donnal also tag along. Along the way, they pick up a young man by the name of Cammon and they continue on their task, constantly running into trouble and drawing unwanted attention on themselves. Senneth, Kirra, Donnal and Cammon are all mystics. Each one has a unique magical power that they control. However, the same power that makes them formidable is also one that can make people rise up against them in fear.
The king has decreed that mystics are to be tolerated and not injured, but many are whispering the king is enslaved by his new wife who’s younger than him. Fueled by their fear, things in the kingdom are getting out of hand. Senneth and her group are tasked with finding out the truth.
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.