The Twelve Houses Novels by Sharon Shinn

Alas, the deepest sadness in a reader’s life is when they not only finish a book, but finish the series.

Right now, I’ve finished the Twelve Houses series by Sharon Shinn. The delightful fantasy books came to me in my grandma’s hand. I was craving for something different than the usual, young adult, romance novels or sci-fi Utopians. The ache for a magical world pushed me to my beloved grandparents’ collection. Taking up almost two walls in one study, placed alphabetically in handmade bookcases, were these vast, thick-spine and stout books that coveted the fantasy world. My grandparents read them in abundance – there was never a moment they didn’t have one of them in their pockets. Upon relaying my desire, my grandma pulled a couple books and went into great detail into each series. I’m not sure why, but the Twelve Houses novels always caught my eye in her study. Maybe it was the unique cover or title. I sure didn’t realize what it might’ve held.

Among other not-so-memorable stories, when I finally read Mystic and Rider, it had me spellbound. After the previous books, I wasn’t too convinced this style was my ideal. I’m not talking about the genre, fantasy, but rather they way they had written it. It was usually the same cliche characters with long passages describing the scenery. I wasn’t all too convinced much about this next series.

It starts off pretty much with formidable individuals intimidating an innkeeper who indentured, what the book refers to, as a mystic. A mystic is someone that has some sort of magical power that ranges from ship-shifting to lighting things on fire. Unfortunately, these unfortunate fellows are outcasts in the land of Gillengaria.

The main individual of this particular book is Senneth, a powerful fire-wielding mystic who serves the king. Her mission in this branch of the plotline is to discover if civil unrest exists in the land. She is accompanied by the king’s Riders, who have sworn their loyalty to the king and have extreme combat skills. They hold misgivings, as most of the people do, about this mystic woman. They are also accompanied by the ship-shifting, and noble-born Serramara Kirra Danalustrous and her loyal, mystic, childhood friend, Donnal. All in service to the king, they bound out across the kingdom, weary of each other. Through dangerous perils and misadventures, they come to discover not only about the bigger plotline but face what’s in themselves.

Each book except for the last, (there’s four), can stand on its own as it explores most of the individual character’s lives and adventures. In the last book, they all come together to finally face the dark unrest that plagued their land.

Sharon Shinn is an incredible writer. I almost teared up knowing that it was the last of the Twelve Houses novels. She has a splendid way of creating gaping secrets that are not too easy to see, and tying loose ends that would never make you second guess her decisions. It was never a bore moment for me in this series and I was quite astonished when I went to mark the next chapter and saw it was my last.

Shinn has created this world that almost seems tangible and characters so honorable that you wish you could meet them. I have never been so immersed in a world as I was in this series. Every heartache she described, every heart-racing combat, every stolen, explainable joy was as rich as chocolate. I don’t know about you, but this woman deserves an award. Rarely have I seen someone write so potently as Shinn does. I wish I could use my words like she does.

If you have an unwavering taste for a new series or a world oozing with magic, I sincerely beg you to try this out. The books may seem slightly thick but they do go by fast. By the end, you will wish they hadn’t.

Check out her website: Sharon Shinn


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