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Publisher's Summary

Noble-born shape-shifter Kirra Danalustrous has accepted her father's invitation to style herself as her sister - the heir of Danalustrous - and attend all the social events being held by the Twelve Houses. She is accompanied by Donnal, a peasant and shape-shifter who has served her most of her life. She is delighted to learn that Senneth, Tayse, Justin and Cammon will also be making the social circuit as they escort Princess Amalie to the summer balls.

But it's soon clear that Amalie is under attack from factions that want to overthrow the throne, and Amalie's uncle Romar, regent of the kingdom, might be in even more danger. Kirra gladly helps protect them both, though it is disastrous when she begins to fall in love with Romar. For Romar is a married man - and half of Kirra's heart already belongs to Donnal.

BONUS AUDIO: Includes an exclusive introduction by author Sharon Shinn.

House hunting? Download more in The Twelve Houses series.
©2006 Sharon Shinn; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Shinn....paints their journey with a lyrical grace and deep appreciation of camaraderie reminiscent of Diane Duane at her best." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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Story

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  • Overall

Little slow at first but...

It starts out a little slow at first and is a bit clunkie because it has sooooo many characters but in the end I really enjoyed it. So much so that within a month of buying the first book I had bought the rest of the series and had already finished all of them! Yeah it's a good series. I find my self missing the characters now that I've finished the books.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Great follow up in the series

One of the things I really enjoy about the Twelve Houses series is that the author takes the characters we meet in the first book and expands on them in each of the subsequent books. In this book, we learn more about Kirra Danaloustrus, her life as the shapeshifter/mystic daughter of one Gillangaria's most prominent Serramars and watch her fall in love with a most inappropriate man. There are points that you love Kirra for her love for her friends and there are points where you just want to slap her because of her selfish love for someone she can't have.
The reader does an awesome job bringing the characters to life and I've listened to each book in the series twice now because they are just wonderful books.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • karen
  • Christchurch, New Zealand
  • 11-13-11

Wow such an awesome series

Sharon Shinn certainly has me hooked. This is another excellent book. Captivated from the start to the end. Love the characters and Narrator is excellent once again. Can't wait the read the next addition to the series.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

How GREAT is Sharon Shinn? Just read her books!

I LOVED this series -- all of the characters were so original and individual, and Jennifer Van Dyck was brilliant as the reader. I really couldn't put my ipod down and stayed up way too late at night "watching" the movie in my head. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED to anyone who loved the Sharing Knife series or the Chalion books by LMB. I know I'll listen again and again.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Not the same old story

One of the things I like about this author is that she's not afraid to take her stories in slightly different directions.

Kirra is a flawed person. Many things in her life came to her easily, but she's left some of her easy life behind and is trying to make a difference in her world. Needless to say, her personal choices tend to be less than perfect, and I like that the author lets her make realistic mistakes and has her face the consequences.

So yes, this second installment in the Twelve Houses series follows our heroes from the previous book as they protect the king's nearest and dearest and infiltrate elite social circles. And it's about Kirra, her choices and the messes she makes for herself, and the way she deals with them. Watching Kirra make a mess isn't always the most comfortable thing, but overall I very much enjoy this entire series!

The narrator is one of my favorites, so of course I enjoyed her perfomance as usual!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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slow start, but a good story overall,

Any additional comments?

good enough to go on to the next one. May go back and do the first one too.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • William
  • Lindale, TX, United States
  • 03-26-11

Just as good as the first book...

I was blown away at how good the first book in this series was. I found the second was just as good. Understand the comment about all the parties, but that's central to their mission in this story. The characters are so enjoyable. The narrator makes them so real that again I was sorry to see this story end. If you liked the first book, I think you'll like this one too.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Another winner!

I loved this book! The main character happens to be one of my favorites out of the series and as always, it is written very well. The narrator is wonderful too, a definate must read!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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a great audiobook listening experience

Jennifer van Dyck does a fantastic job, again. Her voice is particularly suited to Sharonn Shinn’s world.

I liked Kirra in the first book, ”Mystic and Rider”, though she was far from being my favourite character. I still liked her in this installment, despite - and against her better judgement – her becoming involved with the married regent of Gillengaria, Romar Brendyn. I couldn’t find it in my heart to condemn her, but as their relationship is kind of futile from the very beginning, I did not find their particular storyline compelling either. Having to listen to their long and in a way pointless conversations was rather tedious. But for listening to the audiobook, I would have skipped these parts fully. I agree with other reviewers that their relationship seemed to be based much more on lust/infatuation than actual love (from Romar’s side definitely) & their hurting others as well as themselves was painfully obvious to everyone else around them.

It is a pity that Donal remained a cypher in this book with no POV. We could catch glimpses of him, but always through Kirra’s eyes and even though what I saw, I liked, he mostly stayed an absent figure, sadly character-less, while Romar’s presence, though much less positive (mostly selfish, irrational and demanding), was always strong and definite. Still, there are some rare, but wonderful & commanding scenes between Kirra and Donnal that show just how unbreakable their bond is.

However, the majority of the story (and even this part, combined with the rest) was superbly written. It was great to have the circle of friends (Senneth, Tayse, Justin, Cammon, Kirra & Donnal) back together again and experience their bond of friendship and trust growing even stronger. Their party is joined by the intriguing characters of Princess Amalie – daughter & heir of King Barryn – and her stepmother, Queen Valry, who is fiercely protective of her and who has secrets of her own. (Surely she must be from the Lyrrens).
Together they are setting off to visit the – mostly hostile or wavering - Southern Houses to introduce the princess who hasn’t set foot outside the court yet, to defend her from any danger that they might encounter on the journey. It is all superbly orchestrated by Shinn. The political tension & stakes are even higher than in the first book with Halchon Gisseltess plotting unceasingly against the King & Coralinda Gisseltess gaining even wider influence with her creepy and dangerously attractive religious fundamentalism. There are two wonderful scenes where they both try to intimidate Amalie in their own ways and she stands up to them both & shows surprising skill & delicacy in dealing with them.
Also the scene between Senneth & Halchon’s long-suffering & intimidated wife, Sabina is a great surprise and joy to read and her actual story almost had me in tears.The confrontation between Halchon and Romar is spectacular & tense.

But the nicest surprise of all was the character development of Justin. Wow – that was also subtley shown, sometimes just hinted at & then suddenly you see him doing things for his friends=family that just takes your breath away. Some of his scenes with Kirra were definitely my favourites.

The end is also moving and exciting (view spoiler) but the mystic power – even though it is used for healing - & its potential threat to those without these gifts once again raises the stakes of war.

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  • Booklover
  • Jacksonville, FL, United States
  • 07-03-15

Still great!

Both the author and narrator continue to impress me with their ranges of characters. Only wish all the books in the series would continue with the same narrator...