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Mystic and Rider (Twelve Houses #1)

4.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,010 Ratings  ·  415 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
Jul 12, 2012 Tarah rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 30, 2010 Sasha rated it it was amazing

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
Wendy Darling
Feb 04, 2015 Wendy Darling marked it as to-read
Shelves: adult, fantasy
Because Sarah J. Maas told me to.
Nov 27, 2010 MarsianMan rated it liked it
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
Head in the clouds
Apr 08, 2015 Head in the clouds rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fantasy ,romance, swordsmanship, magic, socio-political divisions
WOW. What a stunning read! I literally did not put this down and finished it within a day - and now it is past midnight so no coherent thoughts anymore; but I love this book for its character focused narrative - god dammnit I love Senneth - and Tayse and every one of the motley crew of travellers. The bonds of friendship that forms by the end of this book is absolutely beautiful - I will definitely check out the next books, although I desperately hope they live up to this first one, which in a s ...more
Sep 13, 2015 Samantha rated it really liked it
This was a mixed bag for me. There were some wonderful parts. I really liked most of the main cast of characters, though none were perfect. In some cases those imperfections added to their charm but other times it made me want to yell at them. Loudly. Maybe even shake them a little. Or a lot. They were in equal parts frustrating and endearing.


There was this boring repetitiveness to big chunks of the story and in much of their actions/interactions with one another. I just kept waiting for some
Jan 22, 2014 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Shelves: f-sf-for-adults
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
Miss Clark
Feb 21, 2011 Miss Clark rated it liked it
Recommended to Miss Clark by: Anne Osterlund
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 09, 2012 Alexandra rated it it was amazing
*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,
Sep 09, 2011 Chachic rated it liked it
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
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
Jan 18, 2010 Diane rated it really liked it
Shelves: mature-reads
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
Aug 02, 2012 Janet rated it liked it
Shelves: wars-and-thrones
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
Feb 18, 2010 Fani rated it liked it
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
Erica Anderson
Jun 12, 2011 Erica Anderson rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 26, 2011 Sara rated it it was ok
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
Melissa McShane
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
Oct 05, 2015 Tracy rated it it was amazing
I love this book. It's one of those books I read for comfort and so I have read it many times. The world building is well done and I adored Senneth. She is such a wonderful character, powerful and yet very caring with a strong sense of justice and a bit of a temper. She almost has too many gifts. But fortunately she is a complex and mature character so this never becomes annoying. She isn't beautiful but she is compelling and the love story between her and Tayse rang true. They are both older an ...more
Mar 30, 2015 Kelcey rated it it was amazing
I remember reading this at UCSB and loving it but I never made it to the sequels so I re-read this to refresh my memory before diving into the next 4 books. It was just as good this time around! I loved the characters. There were just enough to keep everything interesting and have a good variety of personalities and talents without overwhelming the reader with too many characters and information to keep track of. The set-up of the plot is great for a first book as well. The group’s journey throu ...more
Cee (The Mistress Case)
Guys, guys, guys, I love this book!

Where has Mystic and Rider been all my life? Where has Sharon Shinn been?

With Troubled Waters, I expected adventure, so you can imagine my surprise when it was a rather “calm and tension-free” story, mostly about self-discovery, which wasn’t bad because the magic and fantasy setting were appealing.

I definitely enjoy Mystic and Rider a great deal more and it’s a wonderful FANTASY book for me.

The fact is I tend to follow an unpleasant pattern: enjoying the roman
Jun 13, 2014 zjakkelien rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, ebook
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
Jun 11, 2015 William rated it really liked it
Recommended to William by: Aaron Davis
Shelves: easy-reads, fantasy
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
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 liked it
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
Dec 26, 2009 Finalefantasy rated it liked it
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 liked it
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
Feb 06, 2012 Ryan Groesbeck rated it liked it
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
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All About Fantasy: Twelve Houses series by Sharon Shin 6 9 Jun 11, 2014 12:56PM  
  • The Hero Strikes Back (Hero, #2)
  • The Mage's Daughter (Nine Kingdoms, #2)
  • Beguilement (The Sharing Knife, #1)
  • The Well of Shades (The Bridei Chronicles, #3)
  • The Decoy Princess (Princess, #1)
  • Blood and Betrayal (The Emperor's Edge, #5)
  • When Demons Walk (Sianim, #3)
  • The Wizard Hunters (The Fall of Ile-Rien, #1)
  • Song in the Silence (The Tale of Lanen Kaelar, #1)
  • Inda (Inda, #1)
  • The Hidden City (The House War, #1)
  • The Silence of Medair (Medair, #1)
  • Jaran (Jaran, #1)
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)

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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.” 12 likes
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