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Mystic and Rider (Twelve Houses #1)

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  5,821 ratings  ·  357 reviews
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 diss ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 432 pages
Published February 28th 2006 by Ace (first published March 1st 2005)
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Community Reviews

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From the ages of six through thirteen, I dreaded Back-to-School Night. Every year, my parents would meet the new teacher I had been assigned that fall and every year, that teacher would repeat the same phrase: " advanced and voracious reader, but fails to read diversely." Following those meetings, my parents would return home with a concerned frown on their faces, having been told their daughter was bright and apt in all subjects, but simply refused to pick up a novel outside the fantasy ge ...more

She loved nothing so much as fire, variegated as autumn and leaping with an uncontainable vitality. To her it was the source of all beauty, all power, all creativity, all destruction. 17

After they’d cleaned up the meal, they all just sat there, by common consent unwilling to seek bedrolls and the nightmares that might come with sleep. 33

People should have someone to mourn them, when they die, someone should be sad. 33

Existing without any pride, what a terrible way to live. 64

She liked the dee
Mystic and Rider is about three mystics and two King's Riders out on a mission. In their world mystics are what they call people with magical abilities. The three on this mission are a mysterious woman named Senneth, a highborn lady named Kirra, and Kirra's servant Donnal. Senneth intended to go on her quest alone but the king ordered her to have two of his King's Riders guard her on her quest. The two chosen were a young Rider named Justin, and a battle hardened man named Tayse. Neither of thes ...more
Dear sweet lord I loved this book.

I have a hard time getting into a lot of fantasy. It can just seem so, well, silly. You know, like the book you don't want to admit you're reading because you're worried you only like it because it's secretly just a bodice-ripper romance that happens to have dragons and magic... which themselves can make you believe that what you're reading isn't really reading as much as it is wishing you were Harry Potter...

Anyway, I find that in addition to the above anxieti
In a world where magic and magic users (called Mystics) are feared and hated in the South and tolerated at the king’s order in the North. The king sends a mixed group of Mystics and Riders (the king’s martial / trusted representatives) to investigate the rumors of trouble in the south. Leading the party is Senneth the friendly, unknown, and strongly powerful Mystic; not an easy task when even the King’s Riders do not trust Mystics.

The book is a fairly light hearted considering the serious natur
Miss Clark
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
*written on the 2nd Aug. 2009

Some books make you dream. Some make you laugh. Some keep you on the edge of your seat with every turn of the page. Some make you anxious and curious. Some make you cry and touch your heart. Sharon Shinn's "Mystic and Rider" novel, though not managing to reunite all the above, simply grows on you, no matter the preference you could have as a reader.

Not being the first fantasy novel I've read by this author, I knew I could expect Shinn to deliver an enthralling tale,
Originally posted here.

Mystic and Rider is the first book in the Twelve Houses series by Sharon Shinn. I enjoyed reading the Samaria series by the same author and Archangel is one of my favorite books. I think I've read more contemporary titles than fantasy this year so I find myself wanting to read more of the latter. I decided it would be a good idea to give this series a try.

And an interesting tidbit from the author: The thing that most people seemed to find disappointing about the Samaria b
I liked this one, but didn't feel thoroughly engrossed. Didn't bond deeply to the characters, but I liked them quite well, and bonding may occur in the sequel. My favorite characters are the wild cat (a ra-lynx?) and the young empathic "sensitive" Cammon. (Spelling may be off, since I listened only.)

The fantasy elements are somewhat interesting. The plot to overthrow the king made sense, and I was intrigued about the old queen's sudden death followed by the king's hasty new marriage. Intrigued b
I truly enjoyed this character driven story. Sunneth and her fellow travelers engaged me on a level I hadn't expected. As a fantasy, this is not the strongest work I have come across as far as worldbuilding. The magic and the characters are what makes this one a series I will continue to follow.

The magic is held by those called Mystics. They live in a kingdom where ambitious nobles have decided the King needs replacing. The question is why and to that question there are many answers and suspect
I have a weak spot for shero fantasy fiction. Long post-liberation, we females have so much to fight. A still male-dominated system; women who try to succeed by acting like a man and hurting the rest of us, directly through management or indirectly through association; our bodies which are ever changing, ever coming up with new betrayals; raising children, keeping a job, dealing with a spouse or worse yet, dating. Then there are bills, fashion, car troubles, taxes, politics, global warming, worl ...more
Nice combination of romance and fantasy but not very compelling. There was not a lot of action -only a battle or two- and the group seemed to wander undendingly to gather information for the king. The first half was boring: yet another village to visit, yet another disguise to done and off we go on the road again. In the second part the characters were more developed and exposed, the pieces of the puzzle starting to cling together and the stakes starting to rise. I particularly didn't like the a ...more
Melissa Proffitt
Very good fantasy adventure. I liked the interaction between the characters--characterization is something Sharon Shinn is very good at--and the story worked for me. I loved Senneth, even though I thought she was seriously overpowered. I really wished Shinn had answered the big question of what was going on with the king and his wife. Leaving it for a later book is fine, but I felt there was too much riding on that plot point for it to have been passed over with only a couple of scenes to elimin ...more
Loved it. This was very easy to read, which is always a good thing. I really liked the characters, especially Senneth (the main character) of course, but I also liked Kirra, Cammon, and later the two riders. In the beginning the riders are behaving annoyingly prejudiced, of course, but they stay relatively respectful. When they are not, it's because they do not like mystics, not because they have a problem with powerful women. The women are strong and realistic: they have skills (and impressive ...more
Jan 17, 2015 William rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to William by: Aaron Davis
Shelves: easy-reads
After reading two books by Sharon Shinn, I feel it is safe for me to say that she is a lover of the traditional fantasy. She takes old tropes and cliches and uses them to her advantage, breathing new life into them and twisting them into new directions. Shinn's prose, as always, is elegant in its moderation; never does it seem to wordy or too succinct. As with the other book that I read by her, Archangel, it is primarily her characterization that makes this story more enjoyable than your standar ...more
Shinn does a really interesting thing with the romance in this fantasy novel. For once, it's the heroine who's the mysterious, frighteningly powerful figure, and it's the hero who has to figure out whether *she* is really on the side of good or not, even as he can't help being drawn to her. The dynamic is thoroughly swapped around.

On the other hand, I liked but didn't love the first half of this book because I felt so emotionally distanced from the characters. I understood why we couldn't see de
Barbara ★
Sennet, Kirra and Connal - mystics of varying degrees - are joined by riders, Tayse and Justin. Their mission is to travel the country for the King in order to determine the degree of dissent between the twelve houses and why. The adventures begin immediately when Sennet rescues a young mystic, Cammon, from slavery. They intended to ride incognito but everywhere they stop Sennet senses trouble of some kind - usually nothing to do with the reason for their travels - and jumps in to rescue the und ...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Oct 18, 2012 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of High Fantasy
I'm giving this book a relatively low score because this first one struck me as a rather generic Sword and Sorcery. The backdrop is faux pseudo-European. The King's Riders reminded me of Lackey's Heralds (albeit without the magical trappings) and as for the dilemma of the mystics? I can't agree with the reviewer who wrote that fantasy don't commonly tackle social intolerance, particularly paired with religious fanaticism. Such themes are common, particularly when dealing with magic users. The hi ...more
Mystic and Rider is unusual epic fantasy. It's written by a woman!

It has quite an interesting protagonist(Senneth; Tayse doesn't count); very cool first chapter; solid plotting, very good setting, quite a fluid narrative all in all. Generally quite engaging reading, especially with Senneth in the lead role.

Unfortunately, Senneth is the ONLY character that is interesting enough to be very likable. The others are bland, often indistinguishable, and quite forgettable. Although the narrative is usua
Feb 22, 2013 Bt rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: *shrug*
Recommended to Bt by: Liked "Summers at Castle Auburn"
Shelves: couldnt-finish
I gave up on this book about halfway through. I felt bad because the book wasn't bad or anything. It was just... unremarkable. At the end of each chapter, I'd wonder whether to plow through one more or go start an interesting book.

There was practically no plot to speak of. I only started the book last night, but already, I don't remember what exactly the group's mission was supposed to be. Whatever it was, they seem more concerned with their own agenda than with gathering reports or anything fo
Ryan Groesbeck
This book was a very easy read, with a simple style and a fairly straightforward plot, and that's exactly what I needed after some of the recent...more eyerolling...fantasy novels I've had to hand recently. Shinn doesn't take herself too seriously, and peoples her world with decent characters and a seemingly solid structural underpinning to the society those characters inhabit.

It does suffer from some elements of predictability, particularly Surprise Twists at the end that were seen a long ways
Jacob Proffitt
I need to start working through Sharon Shinn's backlist. I can't recall any of her books that I didn't like and many are some of my favorites. This book is a strong contender for future favorite (I have to wait a bit for the afterglow to die down before I can declare a true favorite).

Mystic and Rider features a party of magical mystics and King's Riders working together on a mission of discovery, tasked by the king to find out how the southern parts of the kingdom are doing. The answer they find
Mystic and Rider is the first installment in a fairly standard long-arc wars-and-thrones fantasy series by Sharon Shinn. A group of three mystics (gelfling! :) no, they're magicians that can shapeshift and control the elements) and two Riders (particularly loyal king's soldiers) set out on a mission to take the pulse of unrest and rumors away from the king's capital city. This first novel of the series describes what they find.

Shinn avoids the worst of epic fantasy's conventions. They only pick
Olga Godim
This is a re-read, probably the third time. I was in the dumps, tired of all the mediocre books I started but couldn’t finish. I wanted to cheer myself up, so I turned to a book by the author who has never let me down yet. The novel lived up to my expectations: an enjoyable read with all the fantasy tropes present but with a twirl that makes them unmistakably Shinn. It’s a story of love and self-discovery, masquerading as a fantasy quest.
The novel opens a new series, set in the imaginary land of
Jenny Matthews
There are one or two bright spots to this book, and then a whole lotta blandness.

I think what saved this book was the main character, Senneth. She was realistic and down-to-earth. She was strong without having to compensate for insecurity by being overly rough or bratty or forceful, like so many other warrior heroines. The love story was cute if standard. The other characters were sometimes annoying, but for the most part were fine.

The problem was this book has a really simple, uneventful plot,
* World-building - FOUR STARS.

Not particularly original, but realistic, with concrete details. I was able to easily visualize and follow along their journey in my mind's eye.

* Plot, characterization, etc. - TWO and a HALF STARS.

Clunky prose, torturous dialogue. Weak characterization of everyone except Senneth and Tayse -- the two main characters who were appropriately complex and interesting enough to carry the story. However, I appreciated that there are no helpless characters that needs freque
Erica Anderson
Absolutely loved this book. It's full of adventure, fast-paced, and has a lovely romance threaded through the story. Shinn has constructed a magical world full of political intrigue and complex characters. The protagonists are Senneth, a mystic with the ability to control fire, and Tayse, a member of the king's guard who is driven by honor and duty. I'd be happy to spend thousands of pages with these two, who grow to trust and love each other as they face dangers on the road and discover somethi ...more
This book was disappointing. I kept waiting and waiting for something to happen - the author did a nice job of world-building and had some interesting political plot threads going, but she never got around having anything climactic happen. Throughout the book, the main charcter became more and more of a "Mary Sue" character, all=powerful yet vulnerable, blah blah romantic heroine. The love story was totally unbelievable, and the secondary characters at the end of the story all suddenly pulling f ...more
I think I might be in love with the world of Gillengaria. I picked this up expecting a fun high fantasy and got romance as an awesome bonus. What more can a girl want?

Amazing character development and world building and an exciting start to what I'm sure will continue to be an awesome series. If you like on-the-road adventure and love stories, you will love this book.
For a complete review:
A wonderful fantasy epic introducing us to the world of the Twelve Houses -- a group of 12 families in a kingdom -- poised on the brink of civil war. A powerful mystic, Senneth, with a mysterious past has been commissioned by the King to discover the source of discontent and is escorted by two of his personal guards (highly trained Riders) and a few other mystics. Senneth is a powerful heroine who is used to relying only on herself but quickly sees how much she needs her companions on this peril ...more
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All About Fantasy: Twelve Houses series by Sharon Shin 6 8 Jun 11, 2014 12:56PM  
  • Princess of the Sword (Nine Kingdoms, #3)
  • The Hero Strikes Back (Hero, #2)
  • Beguilement (The Sharing Knife, #1)
  • Path of Fate (Path, #1)
  • Into the Dark Lands (The Sundered, #1)
  • Princess at Sea (Princess, #2)
  • Steal the Dragon (Sianim, #2)
  • Heart's Blood
  • The Hidden City (The House War, #1)
  • The Fox (Inda, #2)
  • Thief With No Shadow
  • Song in the Silence (The Tale of Lanen Kaelar, #1)
  • The Oracle's Queen (The Tamír Triad, #3)
I’ve been writing stories and poems since I was eight years old. My first poem was about Halloween: "What is tonight? What is tonight?/Try to guess and you’ll guess right." Perhaps this inauspicious beginning explains why it took me till I was in my thirties to sell a novel. It occurred to me early on that it might take some time and a lot of tries before I was able to publish any of my creative w ...more
More about Sharon Shinn...

Other Books in the Series

Twelve Houses (5 books)
  • The Thirteenth House (Twelve Houses, #2)
  • Dark Moon Defender (Twelve Houses, #3)
  • Reader and Raelynx (Twelve Houses, #4)
  • Fortune and Fate (Twelve Houses, #5)
Summers at Castle Auburn Archangel (Samaria, #1) Troubled Waters (Elemental Blessings, #1) Jovah's Angel (Samaria, #2) Reader and Raelynx (Twelve Houses, #4)

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“You have not traveled enough," she said. "Or you'd know that every journey
makes its own map across your heart.”
“She should leave you. Or you shouldn't leave her. I haven't worked it out yet. But you shouldn't be apart.” 11 likes
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