What kid (or adult) doesn’t want to have a magic wand? Or the ability to transport themselves from one location to another in the blink of an eye? Or take another form or shape? I used to dream about those things when I was a kid. Perhaps that is why I love reading sci-fi/fantasy books.
Often they contain magical creatures or mystical persons who can do things that normal human beings can’t do. Sometimes they are a persecuted race of people. Being a little different makes everyone afraid of them. Sometimes the whole race possesses mystical qualities and some use them for good and some for evil. Or the one with the mystical abilities is the one who is supposed to rule the land. Whatever the case, I love the idea!
Imagine my delight when I discovered the Twelve Houses Series by Sharon Shinn at the library. Usually I find the last book in the series, read it and then have to start from the very beginning to find out how the characters got to the situation in the final book. This time I read the summary on the front flap and decided not to read the book I had in hand but to search out the first book.
Senneth is the main character in the first book Mystic and Rider. She is a mystic with the ability to create fire. Her king sends her out on a journey across the land “trying to discover if noble marlords from the Twelve Houses are planning an uprising. She is accompanied by the soldiers Justin and Tayse, two King’s Riders who are unswervingly loyal to the crown. Also on the journey are the shape-changers Kirra and Donnal, and a young mystic named Cammon who can practically read minds. It’s soon clear that not only are marlords planning a rebellion, but that they are being aided by Daughters of the Pale Mother, a fanatical religious sect that hates mystics.” And so I was hooked!
There are five books in the series. All can be read as stand alone novels because the author gives just enough information in each to familiarize the reader with the characters and context. Many characters carry over from novel to novel but it is not necessary to read the preceding story to know what is going on. But if you do, the continuing story is enriched with knowing the back-story behind various comments or scenarios. Either way it’s a win. Five out of five for the series as far as I am concerned.
I didn’t care for the final book in the series, Fortune and Fate. It felt a little contrived and I didn’t feel the main character had the strength of the previous main characters. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the story. I’d give it a 3 out of 5 stars.
The next series I’ve delved into is written by George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. HBO adapted the book The Game of Thrones into a movie series. As usual, I am preferring the book and creating my own character images in my mind. I’ll let you know I like them.