My sis gave me Sharon Shinn's "Mystic and Rider." I'm 60 pages in, not impressed. Does it improve?

What’s worse is, she gave me the next four books in the series as well (ordered them through Amazon and had them sent directly to me), because she thinks this series is really great stuff and I’ll love it. I’m gonna hate to tell her I found it tedious and gave up on it.

My thoughts about the book so far:

  1. So far, it doesn’t really seem to bring anything that new and interesting to the sword-and-sorcery genre. OK, persons with magical ability are persecuted. “A witch! A witch! Burn her!” Nah, not interesting in and of itself.

  2. OK, we’ve got twelve Houses that are vying for more power and possibly the kingship. Oh boy, intrigue. For whatever reason, I just don’t care much for that in my fiction reading, even though I enjoy it in nonfiction.

  3. So far, the book lacks a protagonist. Senneth is (more or less) the main character, but we don’t really see things through her eyes at all. We have no more insight into her than into any of the other five travelers.

3a) Part of the problem may be that Shinn is trying to spread her attention too thin, moving the plot (which I don’t care about that much yet) along while trying to show us a little bit of each of the six characters in her band of travelers. So I don’t really feel I know any of them at all well yet.

  1. And as a result, I’ve got little reason to care about any of the main characters yet. “You are closed to me,” other characters in the first Thomas Covenant book kept saying to Covenant. In this book, they’re all closed to me. I had a better understanding of the innkeeper who we only see in the book’s first eight pages, and then leave behind apparently for good, than I do of any of the six continuing characters.

So: if you’ve read this book already, is any of this going to get better? Is there going to be a conflict I care about? Am I going to learn enough about these characters to come to care about some of these people and what happens to them? Am I going to find a reason to care about the fate of Gillengaria?

If I’d just picked this one up from the library, I’d have already given up on it, but like I said, my sister gave me the whole five book set. She and I often misunderstand each other’s tastes, but usually not so flagrantly. But if it doesn’t pick up soon, I’m going to toss it in anyway, absent some reason to expect things to improve if I only stick with it just a little while longer.

So is this just a slow beginning, after which things will really pick up? Or should I give up now?

Also: if you read this book and liked it, were you already hooked by this point? Or did it take you awhile longer to really get into it?

I read a short story about the Mystic and Rider universe in the collection Quatrain. I really liked the short story and I’m in love with most of Shinn’s other novels so I got M&R and hated it. It was such a slog. I kept trying to give it a chance but I never really got into it. So why did I finish it? I was stuck in a waiting room and didn’t want to read old issues of People and EW.

Try something from a different universe.** Summers at Castle Auburn** has likeable characters and a plot. So do Wrapt in Crystal and Heart of Gold. The latter is kind of a riff on Romeo and Juliet.