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Mystic and Rider

(Twelve Houses #1)

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  9,621 ratings  ·  605 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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Snehal While the basic plotline is simple, a country in rebellion, and you may be able to get the gist of the story if you mix around the books, you will mis…moreWhile the basic plotline is simple, a country in rebellion, and you may be able to get the gist of the story if you mix around the books, you will miss out on the character development. The beautiful thing about this series is the way the characters develop. Would definitely suggest reading in order.(less)

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Average rating 4.09  · 
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 ·  9,621 ratings  ·  605 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
Highly recommended to fans of the sword & sorcery / romantic fantasy genres.

Trouble may be brewing in the mythical Kingdom of Gillengaria ruled by a king, but divided into 12 fiefdoms of so-called "Great Houses", each headed by marlords or marladies loyal to the king. Or are they?

King Baryn sends his trusted counselor, Senneth in the company of her friends Kirra (a daughter of one of Gillengaria's marlords) & Donnal (Kirra's companion) to suss out how the land lies as he has reason to suspect t
“You say I have the power to break you- well, you have changed me, and I did not think I was capable of changing again. I only hope you will not abandon me, so altered and strange to myself, because you think I am too proud to accept your love. I would hate for my life to go on like that, empty of you. I think I would be the one to finally break, after that.”

So What’s It About?

There are stirrings of discontent in the southern Houses of Gillengaria, rumors of growing power and terrible acts commi
Jul 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-reading
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
Highly recommended to fans of the sword & sorcery / romantic fantasy genres.

Trouble may be brewing in the mythical Kingdom of Gillengaria ruled by a king, but divided into 12 fiefdoms of so-called "Great Houses". Each are headed by marlords or marladies loyal to the king. Or are they?

King Baryn sends his trusted counselor, Senneth in the company of her friends Kirra (a daughter of one of Gillengaria's marlords) & Donnal (Kirra's companion) to suss out how the land lies as he has reason to suspe
Linda (not getting friends updates at this time)
I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this story as much as I did. Surprisingly, I was in no rush to end my visit with this unusual cast of characters. I could have finished their journey in less than 48 hours. Instead, I paced my reading with a few chapters at a time.

The six members formed a motley group of mystics, shape changers, loyal soldiers and a ‘sensitive’. Their mission? To carry out King Baryn’s request: discover unrest within his country and the reason for it.

At the beginning, the two soldier
Dec 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: quotes, reviewed

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
Jacob Proffitt
Dec 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, audiobook
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
AMAZING! I reread this one I like it so much. One of my all time favorite Shinn's! For 16 and up.
Reread 2-20-17- Shin has some amazing books and these are my favorite of hers. This is my 3rd time reading this series. I finally just bought the whole set. Shin has a amazing ability to build a world and place characters in it that come alive. She builds her world around her characters giving you pieces of each as the story unfolds. Senneth is one of my favorite Heroines of all time. She is strong
This is what I'd call light, really, really light fantasy. It's a good pick for readers new to the genre or for those who don't typically like fantasy stories as a whole. But for fantasy reading veterans, I'd skip this. There's room for a deep dive but the author chose to only skim the surface. ...more
May 09, 2012 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
Nov 27, 2010 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
Aug 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Truly superbly plotted, and impressively paced, too: this feels like a stroll through a fully realized world. It’s so controlled - the writing is rich in detail and structured well; a lot of action-packed events take place, but the narrative is never propelled in their wake. It’s that deliberate pacing that allows the characters’ stories to emerge without feeling manipulated. It creates an almost elemental space, some breathing room, and a degree of inevitability, which shapes the characters and ...more
Fani *loves angst*
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
 Simply Sam ツ
Sep 09, 2015 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
Mike (the Paladin)
This book was recommended on lists of people here who have recommended other books I liked. Unfortunately I lost interest by maybe 60 pages in and I just didn't get it back. It may simply be me and that this isn't the type of book I care for, or that I'm looking for right now.

The book revolves around a certain religious order of goddess worshipers, a persecuted group (population) of mystics, and a (sort of) traditional adventuring group with representatives of each group.

Anyway, I just kept dri
Head in the clouds
Mar 19, 2014 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
Jun 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mara by: Linda
Shelves: fantasy
First, let me thank Linda for the loan.

Great fantasy, an heroine I could root for, an intriguing world building made this a great reading experience. If the sequels had followed the heroine, I would have loved to keep reading to know how the situation evolved.
Katey Moore
Jun 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, 2019
This series was so hyped, I was leery of it at first. The book seemed a little hard to get into, but once I did, I flew on through. The characters are so well developed, I missed them when I finished Mystic and Rider and harrassed my friend into bringing me book two. The addiction is real.
Amanda Belcher
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Probably really a 3.5 but I rounded up because I really enjoyed the last 1/3 and could see myself continuing the series. Saving the rest of my thoughts for book club.
magic. political intrigue. strong heroine. and slow burn romance! what else could i ask?
Feb 08, 2012 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,
Miss Clark
Oct 07, 2010 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.
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
Samantha W.
This is my second time reading this book, I read it for a really fun new book club I'm a part of.

Rereading fantasy is always interesting to me, because I generally don't reread books at this point in my life, and because frequently fantasy sticks with you (or at least with me). So, while I remembered a lot of the big things that happened in the book the details between characters I'd forgotten. I found that to be a pleasure to rediscover.

Sharon Shinn is definitely one of my favorite authors. I
I was determined to give this book a 2 stars rating but I really really liked strong and yet fragile Senneth and I liked how the characters interacted, how their relationship evolved from distrutful (riders vs mystics) to bonded in friendship (and love). The system of Houses too (though not innovative) was interesting.

If you want something light, if you want magic, friendship, some plotting, some romance (and a lot of riding and camping), then this book is for you.

Will I keep on reading this ser
Apr 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
I enjoyed this book a lot, thought it's been so long since I've read it I need to refresh my memory to keep going with the series. To-DO List! ...more
Dec 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, swbc-2019
Okay read. A bit too light fantasy for me to want to continue with the series.
Amrita Goswami
3.5 stars

This was a pleasant surprise. I've been in a bit of a rut lately. I've been too mentally exhausted with work stuff to read anything cerebral, but I was still getting annoyed with any book too trite or saccharine. This fantasy went down easy, with its no-nonsense prose, and its familiar but interesting storyline.

This is the first in a series, and there are many overarching threads left for the next few books. What really shines here is the character development, which I thought was nuan
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Saucy Wenches Boo...: Mystic and Rider [November 2018] 16 12 Dec 14, 2018 08:35PM  
All About Fantasy!: Twelve Houses series by Sharon Shin 6 15 Jun 11, 2014 12:56PM  

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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

Other books in the series

Twelve Houses (5 books)
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  • Dark Moon Defender (Twelve Houses, #3)
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  • Fortune and Fate (Twelve Houses, #5)

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