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Reader and Raelynx: A Novel of the Twelve Houses    by Sharon Shinn order for
Reader and Raelynx
by Sharon Shinn
Order:  USA  Can
Ace, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Reader and Raelynx is my favorite of the four Twelve Houses novels to date, aside from the first, Mystic and Rider. That story brought together a group of warriors (King's Riders) and magic users (mystics), developing a fiery romance between the most powerful in each group, who distrusted each other. Subsequent episodes have focused on equally unusual romances for the others, in the context of the fanning of flames of rebellion in the kingdom of Gillengaria by Halchon Gisseltess and his sister Coralinda, who directs the order of the Pale Mother in a fanatical campaign to kill mystics.

Abused, orphaned Cammon, a strong sensitive with almost telepathic gifts (a reader), was rescued from slavery and welcomed into the group in Mystic and Rider, and has grown in confidence and skills ever since. He has also become close to Amalie, who herself has evolved through the series from an unknown princess to a mysterious young woman beginning to flex her will and seek to control her own destiny. As potential suitors are paraded in front of the well guarded princess, her stepmother Valri and Senneth become increasingly uneasy about the feelings that Amalie and Cammon are revealing for each other and the almost telepathic bond they are developing. And both Valri and Amalie have closely kept secrets of their own, including strong bonds with the wild and very dangerous raelynx kept in the palace grounds since it was found in the first episode.

Though a romance is at the core of this book - as in the previous ones - the story also explodes into action as the rebellion that has long been simmering boils over into war. With the realm dissolving around her, Amalie steps up to her responsibilities and - with the help of many mystics, riders, and a unique thieving magic - fights back. And Senneth, who has been somewhat on the sidelines in the last two episodes, has a major role once more as she faces what she fears most. Good as it was, I hope that Reader and Raelynx is not the last of this magical series.

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