The House of the Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

House of the Four Winds was a holiday read for me whilst I was recently away in Amsterdam and as such it worked well.  A lighthearted nautical adventure with piracy, sea monsters and a pirate ship graveyard thrown in for good measure.  I can’t say this brings anything new to fantasy and I’m not going to go overboard looking at all the elements – for me, this was fun more than anything else and I think that’s the way the book should be approached.

The story starts with Clarice – one of twelve Princesses from Swansgaarde.  The Princesses are each expected to go out and make their own way in life – basically, the duchy can’t sustain such a large family and more importantly the dowries they will require.  I must admit I liked that the Princesses were expected to do something useful and not be reliant on others.  For Clarice the choice is easy – the one thing she excels at is swordfighting and she wants to set up in that area tutoring would-be students.  However, she needs to get a few adventures under her belt before anyone will take her seriously so she sets off to find excitement with her tricornered hat placed firmly!  Having decided to go adventuring Clarice dresses as a boy – I can understand the necessity of this as she would have been unable to book passage on most ships otherwise.  So, off Clarence sets for the new world.  Of course, she ends up having a larger dose of fantasy than she ever anticipated (but let’s face it – there wouldn’t be much of a book otherwise!)

The main characters of the story are Clarice – henceforth known as Clarence, who spins her tale (keeping it as dangerously close to the truth as possible).  Dominick – the rather good looking navigator of Ship Asesino, Captained by Samuel Sprunt.  There are of course other supporting characters such as the ship’s doctor and minor roles for some of the other crew members and we are introduced to Shamal – is she a pirate, a ruler, a sorceress??

The story is primarily sea based so get ready for a lot of nautical comings and goings as the crew become more and more infuriated by the treatment and conditions meted out by Captain Spruce leading up to eventual mutiny and from there the course of the story changes.  I won’t go into more plot details.

I guess what I enjoyed about this book was it’s easy reading quality.  The plot is decently paced – it starts off with a story tale feel, almost, ‘once upon a time there was a land called Swansgaarde where 12 princesses …..etc, etc’  in fact I wondered at the outset if this was going to be based on the fairytale of the 12 dancing princesses.  It isn’t of course (I don’t think) but that was the general feeling that it impressed me with at the beginning.  We then move onto the adventure which is quite fast paced and holds your attention due to two things – one, you’re constantly wondering if Clarence will have her true identity uncovered – possibly in the most embarrassing way and two, there is a little bit of intrigue about what is really going on aboard the ship and why the men are all being stirred up.

Of course I had a couple of criticisms.  You could be forgiven for rolling your eyes and wondering about how Clarence managed to keep her identify concealed so well.  I think, given her natural talent in swordfighting I expected a bit more of that to be on display whereas it was contained to one fairly brief encounter and I thought the eventual reveal and whole romantic encounter with Dominick was a bit convenient, a bit neatly wrapped up and a little bit rushed.  But, in spite of those criticisms I did find this was good fun.  It’s really not intended to be a deeply serious and thought provoking read and in that respect it works.  Well, that’s my take on it anyway!  Plus, it’s not always easy to find a light hearted summer read in the world of fantasy so this fits the bill.  Although, I wouldn’t have minded (for once) a bit more of a saucy romp!!!

I received a copy of this from the publishers through Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.




13 Responses to “The House of the Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory”

  1. Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    “eventual reveal and whole romantic encounter with Dominick was a bit convenient, a bit neatly wrapped up and a little bit rushed.” – Yeah, I definitely had issues with this part of the book. But, the rest of it was quite fun. You just have to go in with quite a strong and willing suspension of disbelief.

    • lynnsbooks

      I actually enjoyed it – like you say, it’s fun. You can’t take it too seriously but it’s nice to break your reads up with something a bit more fanciful every now and again and this definitely did the trick.
      Lynn 😀

  2. jessicabookworm

    I spotted this on Netgalley too and thought it sounded fun but I have a few too many books at the moment so I didn’t request it myself. I am glad you enjoyed it, it does sound like a fun and easy holiday read.

    • lynnsbooks

      It was perfect for me as a holiday read. Quick, fanciful and light hearted fun. I’ve also been trying to keep back from requesting books. It’s easier not to go and look isn’t it? I’m trying to get my percentage up because it’s not as good as it should be!
      Lynn 😀

  3. jenclair

    I love the cover, but evidently missed the book on NetGalley. Must see if it is not too late to remedy that!

  4. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Same criticisms here, but like you said, it wasn’t meant to be a serious read – great summer fun book, and really quick too. I just really enjoyed this book for being a solid maritime fantasy, I don’t often get to read a lot of books set on the high seas 🙂

    • lynnsbooks

      I know – I think apart from Red Seas Under Red Skies this must be the only other high seas adventure that I’ve read – surely that can’t be right – I will have to go and have a look now!
      Lynn 😀

  5. Tabitha (Not Yet Read)

    Oh man I hope my copy arrives soon I’m going nuts over here wanting to read it! arghhhhh mmmm good loooking navigator, a person in disguise and bad captain. Yes I need this now.

    • lynnsbooks

      I really liked the female pirate as well! Such a horrible character.
      Lynn 😀

  6. They seek him here, they seek him there.. | Lynn's Book Blog

    […] The House of the Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory – I’m not sure you could call this a missing heir – so much as a heir who goes travelling in cognito. […]

  7. ‘But why is the rum gone?…?’ |

    […] The House of the Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory.  The House of the Four Winds is a lighthearted novel following the adventures of Princess Clarice who leaves home and takes to the high seas.  This is a fun nautical advenutre with pirates, story oceans and sea monsters. […]

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