Friday, August 7, 2009
Series: Twelve Houses
(c) 2007, ACE Books, Penguin Group
449 pages, Mass-Market Edition
Book 4 in the series
The Princess Amalie is to choose from among her suitors, in a bid to quell the rebellious uprising brewing in the kingdom. Cammon, who is able to read the emotions of people, is assigned to help her weed out suitors who aren't sincere. In the process, both of them start to fall in love with each other, despite rules and conventions that forbid the match between a princess and a commoner.
Sharon Shinn's writing style is easy to read, and the words and the story flows smoothly along. Again, it was nice to meet up with old friends--the characters from the previous books--and to know what had happened to them after their individual romances/books.
The story picks up from where Justin's story ended, about a year later, with war imminent on Gillengaria's doorstep. The entire series has one big story arc, and this is the 4th book in the series. Per the author's website, she believed readers would have a hard time following the story when they start with this book. In my opinion, however, if you're the type to be satisfied with hints and highlights that had happened in the previous books, it would be perfectly okay to read this without reading the others. But you would've missed out on the developing relationship of the six main characters of the series that had happened in the previous books, which I believe forms the very foundation of their deep friendship. Especially for Cammon, the hero in this book, whose character is wrapped up in his relationship with the other five.
Amalie is a bright young woman who takes such delight in the things around her, as though she is seeing everything for the first time. And a lot of times, she is. Cammon, on the other hand, is a powerful mystic who can read minds and do lots of other wonderful, strange and powerful things. One of the first thoughts that entered my mind regarding Cammon is, how could the author make him so powerful? Heroes usually have flaws, despite the immense strength or power they wield, and Cammon seems to be...flawless, perfect. Yet, we find later on that his weakness is Amalie and the friends he had accumulated along life's journey, and that his powers cannot penetrate/doesn't work on people not from Gillengaria.
Cammon and Amalie are said to be good for each other, despite their stations in life, as both experienced loneliness and being friendless while growing up due to different reasons. However, I couldn't get much into the feel of their romance. There seems to be something lacking, though I couldn't pinpoint what. Of all the romances, I feel Justin's and Ellynor's (Dark Moon Defender) is the best, the sweetest, and one whom I don't mind to read again sometime down the road.
One thing that jarred me out of my suspension of disbelief is the scene where Amalie wanted to know what her husband would expect of her after they marry. In short, what the marriage bed is about (in theory) and how a man is different from a woman. Granted, it is winter, and they were outside in the garden on a bench, she and Cammon are friends, but still, when a man strips all his clothes in front of a girl...it is a bit inconceivable that nothing--absolutely nothing--would happen, especially when they were having more than friendly thoughts toward the other, even if these thoughts weren't that fully formed yet. Or perhaps, the romances I've been reading are affecting my thinking as to how a couple would react to each other when one of them is naked.
This story in effect wraps up all the loose threads and brought several pairs of lovers together. Despite the negative comments above, generally, I enjoyed this story, as I have enjoyed any story by Sharon Shinn for the "feel good" sentiments.
The fifth book, Fortune and Fate, relates the events that happened two years later after the end of this 4th book. The protagonist here is the Rider Wen, who left the palace after a grievous mistake she'd committed during the war. Though some of the six primary characters will also make cameo appearances, however, I'm not sure I want to read it since Wen didn't exactly endear herself to me during her brief appearances in Reader and Raelynx.
Book Rating: 3.5