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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Mystic and Rider by Sharon Shinn

Mystic and Rider by Sharon Shinn. New York: Ace Books, 2005. ISBN: 0-441-01246-9

I have reviewed four other novels by Sharon Shinn, all of them from her Samaria chronicles, science fiction books about a planet inhabited by a version of the human race that includes winged angels. Finding them quite enjoyable, I naturally picked up this new title by the same author when I came across it on my local library's new fiction shelf.

This is, however, the beginning of a fantasy series. Set on the continent of Gillengaria, where the so-called “mystics” have special magical powers, and where the kingdom is at risk of falling into war as the followers of the Pale Mother, the moon, seek to destroy the mystics, and plunge the kingdom into war over the succession, all at the same time.

You might call this a “quest” novel, as the story line revolves around a group of intrepid travelers, on a mission for the king to learn what is happening in the provinces, among the great houses of the aristocracy. Three of the travelers are mystics, joined by another, a young man they pick up along the way. The others are King's Riders, members of the elite military force that is loyal to the king.

The storyline and the ideas behind it are are well written enough and just different enough, to sustain interest, and make this story stand out above the ordinary “medieval” style fantasy. (Why is it, I ask parenthetically, that almost all fantasy is set in a medieval era level of technology and society?)

According to "On the Plain of Sharon," the unofficial fan site for Sharon Shinn, the sequel to Mystic Rider, titled The Thirteenth House, was released back in March. I'll have to look for it. Mystic Rider is recommended for all fantasy readers, and especially for fans of Ms. Shinn.

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