Shinn, Sharon. The Thirteenth House.
In Mystic & Rider, Shinn introduced the 6 characters who would carry the novel and the series, and I liked them all and enjoyed watching their personalities continue to develop throughout the book and their various adventures.
This second novel in the series concentrates on Kirra. While I like Kirra's character, I would have preferred more of the camaraderie of the first book to the emphasis on one character.
In Mystic & Rider, the mystics (those with various magical powers) and two of the King's Riders (an exclusive military guard) are traveling the country trying to anticipate who might join the marlord of Gisseltess in rebellion against the king. The book is full of high adventure.
The Thirteenth House consists of vassals who hold their land under one of the marlords of the Twelve Houses. In this feudal system, each of the marlords of the Twelve Houses has granted land and property to his vassals who hold and manage their estates at the behest of their marlord. They owe their allegiance to their marlords, and the marlords owe their allegiance to the king. Just as in feudal Europe, this set up leads to conflicts of power.
In The Thirteenth House, the marlord of Gisseltess is attempting to recruit vassals from their own marlords in preparation for a war. Many of the vassals are desirous of becoming more than the stepchildren of the Twelve Houses and feel entitled to possess property in their own names. At the same time, many of the marlords of the Twelve Houses are afraid that the king may die and leave the kingdom in disarray as his daughter is too young to consolidate power, so they, too, are open to the appeal of Halchon of Gisseltess. The fear and hatred of mystics perpetuated by the Lestra and the Daughters of the Pale Mother is still a factor, but is less of a concern in the tour of the Great Houses.
Which Houses will fight for the king? Which ones will remain neutral? Which will join Gisseltess in rebellion? Which vassals will remain loyal to their marlords?
These are the questions to which the group of six must ascertain the answers during a summer tour that will introduce the princess to her people. The mystics (Senneth, Kirra, Donnal, and Cammon) and the Riders (Tayse and Justin) must keep Princess Amalie safe as they also take the pulse of both marlords and vassals.
I enjoyed this sequel, but not as much as the first in the series. The romance between Kirra and Romar Brendyn, the king's regent, took up too much time. There was too little of the other characters to satisfy me. If I figured out Valri in the first book, why can't the little group of heroes figure it out?
I love the magical powers of the mystics and the courage and commitment of the Riders, and there are some exciting episodes, but the focus on Kirra and her romance was a drawback for me. Nevertheless, I like the characters more than enough to continue the series, and I definitely want to know what happens next.
Other Reviews: The Melander Bookshelf, Banter Basement, The Epic Rat, Rosario,
Fiction. Fantasy. 2006. 484 pages.