My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I was previously familiar with Sharon Shinn via her Samaria novels, and so when I was in the mood to take on some epic fantasy, I was pleased to check out her Twelve Houses books. Mystic and Rider is the first of these, introducing the mystic Senneth, who has been appointed by her king to patrol the land of Gillengaria and find out how bad the anti-magic sentiment among the people has gotten. With her travel a small band of other magic-users, as well as two of the King’s Riders, the elite cadre of warriors.
Mystic and Rider is not without problems; the initial pacing is somewhat clunky, and I found several of the character names and place names somewhat clunky as well. The clunky bits were never enough to drop me out of the story, though. And once the book got its feet under it, it hummed along nicely. I particularly appreciated a scene where Senneth is provoked into unleashing her fire magic.
As with the book as a whole, the grudging but increasing chemistry between Senneth and the Rider Tayse starts off somewhat clunkily. But it too gets its feet under it, and ultimately I found the development of their relationship satisfying.
Overall this was a decent little fantasy novel. The main plot of unrest fueled by an anti-magic cult in the realm is intriguing, and this was certainly more than enough to make me go ahead and continue with the series. Three stars.