Fortune and Fate
Grade : C+

Fortune and Fate is the fifth book in Sharon Shinn’s Twelve Houses series and picks up several years after the war that divided the country of Gillengaria in Reader and Raelynx.

Wen is a King’s Rider in self-exile. When war erupted and King Baryn died while she, sworn to protect him unto her death, survived, she lost her reason for living. Since then she has been traveling the country helping people in trouble and refusing to take anything for it. As the book begins, Wen encounters Karryn, heiress to the House of Fortunalt, struggling to get away from her kidnappers, she rescues her and moves on. But, as she will see, the remnants of the rebellious House of Fortunalt will require more of her skills than just foiling a kidnapping.

In fairly short order Wen finds herself with the job of Captain of Security for the manor house Fortune, supervised by Karryn’s uncle Jasper Palladar, an intriguing man whose interests and abilities are the exact opposite of hers. Why then does she find herself so drawn to him?

Approximately half of the book concerns Wen’s journey back to being part of society. These parts were enjoyable. Wen, though fairly mannish – one of my least favorite types of heroines – was, nevertheless, sympathetic and easy to relate to. Jasper was a less intriguing sort. Their gentle romance is not substantial enough to keep the pages turning, though it wasn’t the book’s major weakness.

That weakness was the inclusion of the series’ stable of characters – Senneth, Justin, Cammon, and Kirra, whom Shinn spent copiously amounts of ink on without moving them forward as characters at all. A third to a half of the book was spent on retreading the paths of their friendships and foible and updating the reader on how they’d all been since the war. They are nice people, all of them, but without a new conflict their presence was extraneous and frequently rather boring.

About halfway through Fortune and Fate, I stalled out until I forced myself to go back a couple of weeks later, just to finish it for review. What I found was that the plot picked up a lot in the last third and the story’s action became engaging again. Wen’s work to improve Karryn’s safety proved necessary and the mystery of the violence in Fortunalt was eventually solved. But had I not had to read this for review, I never would have made it that far. If you are in the mood for a quiet, opposites attract romance or want to revisit Gillengaria and the characters there, you might want to pick this one up. But it’s certainly not Shinn’s strongest piece of work, and I’d have to advise waiting for the paperback or reading a library copy, at least.

Reviewed by Rachel Potter

Grade: C+

Book Type: 

Sensuality: Subtle

Review Date : February 23, 2009

Publication Date: 2008

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