Review: Mystic and Rider

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Mystic and Rider by Sharon Shinn

Published March 1st, 2005 by Ace
Genre: Fantasy
Reviewed on February 12, 2015

Book Blurb

Gillengaria seethes with unrest. In the south, hostility toward magic and its users has risen to a dangerous level, though King Baryn has ordered that such mystics are to be tolerated. It is whispered that he issued the decree because his new wife used her magic powers to ensnare him… The King knows there are those in the noble Twelve Houses who could use this growing dissent to overthrow him. So he dispatches the mystic Senneth to assess the threat throughout the realm. Accompanying her is a motley band of magic-users and warriors including Tayse, first among the King’s Riders—who holds a hard view of mystics in general, and Senneth in particular.

But as the unlikely allies venture farther into the south, they will face death in a land under the sway of a fanatical cult that would purge Gillengaria of all magic users. And they will come to realize that their only hope of survival lies in standing together…


Guys, guys, guys, I love this book!

Where has Mystic and Rider been all my life? Where has Sharon Shinn been?

With Troubled Waters, I expected adventure, so you can imagine my surprise when it was a rather “calm and tension-free” story, mostly about self-discovery, which wasn’t bad because the magic and fantasy setting were appealing.

I definitely enjoy Mystic and Rider a great deal more and it’s a wonderful FANTASY book for me.

The fact is I tend to follow an unpleasant pattern: enjoying the romance of a fantasy book more than the fantasy itself.

Sometimes, I have to deal with petty romance and selfishness masked as love, and what’s worse is when I can’t stand the heroine or/and hero.

With Mystic and Rider, the pattern is out of the question and I can’t begin to tell you how at home I felt with the characters.

Senneth. Tayse. Justin. Cammon. Donnal. Kirra.

Six travelers— two riders and four mystics— who put aside their differences and learn to trust and depend on one another as they work on a mission given by the King. With the exception of Cammon who just happens to get tangled with the original five. The story starts off confusing for me. Nonetheless, it’s a perfect beginning, demonstrating what readers are getting themselves into. Initially, we are deceived by the point of view of an unimportant character, who reflects on the identities of his tavern’s customers, including the major characters. Eventually, we quickly learn everyone is not what they seem when the tavern is thrown in confusion and disorder. From that moment on, the six travelers don’t fail to awestruck the people of wherever they journey (and the readers) with their sharp wits and skills— combat, tactical, magical and whatnot. Strength and loyalty are tested. Weaknesses are revealed. Friendship, trust, and a deeper bond of affection are formed.

I would trust these people with my lives. I really would.

Our heroine, Senneth, is mature and 34 years of age, which is quite refreshing to see a change in a character. Though I believe age has less to do with it. She’s not the overdramatic and oh-why-does-this-have-to-happen-to-me heroine I read about these days. She’s really kick-ass and awesome and I mean it without exaggeration. Her experiences— harsh and pleasant— have aged her beyond a lifetime, making her a rational, strong, levelheaded, and independent woman. She doesn’t seek approval and praise and is honest in everything she is, although she does hide her past identity. An identity which she disowned at seventeen when she started wandering around the world. Senneth is such a strong and remarkable person that when she undergoes moments of weakness, it’s like a bullet to the chest. Her vulnerability is nothing to bash at when it’s reasonable. Not once can her actions be condemned as selfish nor her acts of love. She’s somebody you can trust to have your back. Somebody, like Tayse, who you will freely follow into the battlefield. I respect her and that’s a lot coming from me. I can love a character, but it’s a whole other story for a character to earn my respect and gratitude.

I swear, there is a common and frustrating point in a book, where the heroine and/or hero would throw a fit and play out a dramatic episode. (See Stolen Songbird and The Kiss of Deception.) Senneth doesn’t go stupid in the head or become blinded by love. She deals with it like an adult. (Okay. As if I know anything about dealing with situations like an “adult.”) Both Senneth and Tayse face love sensibly, even when the emotions are enough to overwhelm them into insanity and the what-ifs threaten to break them.

“If I were to fashion a man I would want to see riding at my side, I would fashion him just like you. He would look like you, he would fight like you, he would be just as wary and hard to convince. He would be you. But he would learn, no matter how slowly, that he need not put love aside. He would come to understand that I am lonely, that I am frightened, that I am a woman building fires to ward off the dark.”

I am confident the rest of the series won’t live up to the first book. I am confident in this.

Mystic and Rider is worthy of five stars!

Senneth is worthy of my admiration.

I almost wish the rest of the series had continued with her viewpoint.



Nancy Her


Cee named The Mistress Case after Sherlock (BBC with Benedict) and Supernatural (Dean, baby). She writes mainly book reviews. On occasions, movies and TV shows. She reads and reviews in many genres, including fantasy, historical, contemporary, romance, erotica, mystery, etc. She personally rains more love on fantasy and historical romance and hopes you won't hold it against her. Caoi.


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