Retro Friday: The Thirteenth House by Sharon Shinn

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie over at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc.

The Thirteenth House is the second book in the Twelve Houses series by Sharon Shinn. Reading order: Mystic and Rider, The Thirteenth House, Dark Moon Defender, Reader and Raelynx, Fortune and Fate. Should the books be read in order? Yes. Also, don’t read any of the synopses of the latter books if you haven’t read the earlier ones. Don’t even read the summary for this book because it contains spoilers. I made the mistake of doing that and I think I would have had a better reading experience if I had no idea of what was going to happen. Mystic and Rider focused on two of the six companions in the Twelve Houses series, Senneth and Tayse. The Thirteenth House is all about the serramarra Kirra and there’s a bit about Donnal too because he’s always beside Kirra.

The novel starts with an adventure for Kirra, Donnal, Justin and Cammon. They’ve been requested by the king to rescue an important figure in the realm. Kirra is her usual fun-loving self although she manages to pull off being serious in the face of danger. I really liked Kirra’s character and I was looking forward to reading more about her. She’s such a vibrant character, so full of life. I did enjoy the fact that the other characters were present in this one, makes me feel like the characters are old friends. We get to know more about them as the whole gang tags along with Senneth as she accompanies the princess to tour the realm. Like I said, I liked Kirra’s personality but I didn’t think she made wise decisions in matters of the heart. I couldn’t root for her romance and was actually wondering how Sharon Shinn would pull off the ending. I was satisfied with the book as a whole. I still haven’t fallen in love with the series at this point but I like it well enough to continue with the rest of the books. I would have liked to have more of Donnal in Kirra’s story since he doesn’t get to have his own book. I feel like we don’t get to know enough about him.

In the first book, readers saw the Twelve Houses world through the stealthy travels of the companions. In this book, readers are given a glimpse of the nobility, the fine houses that they live in and the political intrigue that’s tied with their way of life. The plot hinting at possible war continues with the added complication of members of the Thirteenth House, the lesser nobles of the Houses. This is the kind of series that makes you want to read the books one right after the other to grasp the overall story arc. Also, when you’ve invested in the characters, you just want to stick with them until you reach the end of their story. I’m actually in the middle of the third book, which is about Justin, but I’ve been put it on hold to read some other things. I hope to get back to it soon. Recommended for epic fantasy fans who enjoy reading series.

Other reviews:
Songs and Stories
Rosario’s Reading Journal
The Melander Bookshelf