Romar Brendyn, the newly named regent, was abducted from the road in broad daylight by some malcontents. With some friends, Kirra sets off at the request of her king to rescue Romar. After affecting his rescue, she returns home to discover she’s not being named the heir to Danalustrous. Her half-sister Casserah will take on the position when their father passes on. Even though it was a hard blow, even Kirra had to admit it was the smartest choice. As a mystic, she was plagued with the need to constantly be on the move.
Their father decided it was time for everyone to meet Casserah, and wanted her to do the tour of all of the noble houses. However, Casserah refuses to budge from Danalustrous and entreats her sister to take on her form since Kirra is a shapeshifter. With Kirra acting as Casserah, she undertakes the social circuit and falls in love with the married Lord Romar. After she reveals her true identity to him, Kirra begins to have an affair with him that leads to nothing but trouble.
Of the Twelve Houses books, this one has to be my least favorite. While there are moments of intense action, you’re mainly stuck in carriages and in a major group of people as the nobility moves from home to home to attend extravagant balls. In this book, Sharon Shinn moves away from showing, which was so strong in Mystic and Rider, and degrades into pure telling. We’re constantly told how each ballroom was decorated and what exactly the major characters were wearing. To tell the truth, there are only so many times you can be told what a ball gown looks like, how hair is styled, and what jewels people are wearing.
Each book in this series is a story of one of the principal characters, the exception being the final book. Mystic and Rider cover the story of Senneth and Tayse. Thirteenth House is purely about Kirra. I guess since she’s a serramarra, or noble, we’re led into the world of royalty and monied frivolity. However, it gets old after awhile.
This book does hold one of my favorite paragraphs of the entire series, though. So that’s one of the reasons while I will read the entire thing when I go through the series “one more time.” What’s interesting is that paragraph is near the end of the book. So I will read through the inanities of the social scenes to get to it. It does have a very poignant ending though that wrap the book up well, if you can make it that far.
It is an interesting part of the Twelve Houses series and gives you excellent insight into Kirra. It is still a necessary book to the entire series, so it should at least be skimmed. There are probably people out there who love these kinds of books as it was rife with love scenes (nothing explicit), parties, and bits of action that further the entire story. So it’s a necessary stop through this series.