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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Fortune and Fate, by Sharon Shinn

I have previously posted about Sharon Shinn's Twelve Houses novels, Mystic and Rider and The Thirteenth House. (This is Shinn's web site.)

I have not posted on the last three of these books, which are Dark Moon Defender, Reader and Raelynx, and Fortune and Fate. To summarize briefly, Dark Moon Defender describes an evil woman, politically powerful, Coralinda Giseltess, who has been able to almost stamp out mystics -- people born with various magical powers, such as being able to start fires, or change into an animal's shape. In Reader and Raelynx -- a raelynx is a large solitary feline predator -- her rebellion unites with that of the leaders of two of the provinces of the land, one of them her brother, the other, Rayson Fortunalt. They nearly overthrow the kingdom, and do succeed in killing the king. In the process, it becomes clear that Coralinda herself has been using magical powers. Finally, all three of these rebel leaders are killed. Amalie, the young daughter of the king marries Cammon, a mystic who can Read -- that is, he can read the minds of other people.

Throughout the books, new people, with new mystical powers, are introduced.

There is a religion in Shinn's sub-creation, and the characters believe in supernatural goddesses, and these goddesses are real, in this fictional world. A character says that she has seen two of them during the battles in Reader and Raelynx.

There is another interesting aspect, relating to religion, in fact to Christianity (although there is no reference to Christianity in the book). A bit of background first.

The action in Fortune and Fate makes up two separate stories. (Fortune is the name of the capital building of Fortunalt). In one of them, Wen, a King's Rider who was present when the King was killed, cannot forgive herself. (It wasn't her fault.) She leaves the capital, resigning from the Riders, and wanders around the country without any real goal, leaving any situation that looks like she might make new friends. She does rescue several people who are in danger, using her intelligence and her military skills. She finds herself in Fortunalt, and takes on the job of developing a competent guard force for the young heiress of that House. Meanwhile, the other story is that Cammon, the consort of the Queen, takes a very slow tour of the land, with a large entourage.

Near the end of the book, the two threads are tied together, when Cammon and his entourage come to Fortunalt. Here's a key conversation, between Senneth and Tayse, the main characters in the series, who are part of Cammon's escort:
"Whatever reason he had for making this trip. Was it really to tour the southern lands and try to determine how safe they would be for Amalie to visit? Was it to gain some consensus from the Twelve House overseers about putting together a mixed force to patrol the borders? Or was it to find Wen?"
She sat up straighter in bed. "Surely not even Cammon would believe such a long and expensive journey could be justified by the idea fo finding one lost soul?"
"I actually think it's the only sort of prize Cammon really thinks is worthwhile."
"But -- but -- all this time -- and all these people! Nine Riders and seventy guards! The dinners, the bills at the inns! All to locate a missing woman?" (Sharon Shinn, Fortune and Fate. New York: Ace, 2008. P. 351.)

Yes, Cammon went to a great deal of trouble and expense to make sure that Wen, who, although a friend, is not a special one, is able to forgive herself, and find a useful role in life. Does that remind me of anyone? Of course! Jesus did that, too, on an even larger scale, and not in fiction. He traveled here from Heaven, so that I could be forgiven, and find a useful role in life, regardless of the cost.

Thanks for reading.

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