The House of the Four Winds

Mercedes Lackey, James Mallory
The House of the Four Winds Cover

The House of the Four Winds


The House of Four Winds has the air of a fairy tale. A fairy tale that features pirates, nonetheless. It's an interesting setup; the royal family of a struggling land has a dozen daughters. They are each tasked with learning a trade seeing as how their family can't support them all. The eldest daughter, Clarice, takes up the sword as her trade and on her eighteenth birthday sets out to gain experience, and more importantly sets out in search of adventure!

Clarice's goal is to travel far and wide, earning a name for herself with duels so she might come back and teach others the sword as a renowned swordmaster. To best achieve this and have the greatest opportunity of success, she decides it would she should travel as a man. So, she sets out as "Clarence" and eventually finds herself aboard a ship, with high hopes and an excited anticipation of adventures to come.

For whatever reason, I love stories where a female character is living under the guise of a man for one reason or another. I also love the prospect of them being skilled in an area such the sword. So, I thought this one might be a good fit. And for a while it was. I enjoyed Clarice's character and how she interacted with her shipmates. I even enjoyed her relationship with Dominick, that is also her love interest. At least up until a point.

Now, I want to make a disclaimer. I don't often read books that are tagged romance. This one was. But every once in a while, I like to read something a bit different. Sometimes I look for something more fun, less dark, so I'll request a book out of my normal reading range. This was one of those.

The problem for me was that it had what I could consider to be a Disney style romance. It's that quite sudden, consuming love that leads characters to say and do things that just make me roll my eyes. Actually, I shouldn't say 'consuming', because unlike some books, the focus was not lost because of romance. So I applaud it for that. I also knew going into this it was a romance, so I can't decide how to judge it. This is not my normal sub-genre and I know I am quite finicky about romance in my books. So, just because I had a negative reaction to this part, may very well have no bearing on what other readers will think of it. And to be completely fair here, I said early this has the feeling of a fairy tale story, and the ending and the romance were both very true to that form. I think for the type of story it was, it did quite well.

I enjoyed the story, but the resolution came rather sudden and easy for me, personally. Much like the romance aspect of it. It is a lighter read, perhaps that should not be a big deal, as the book was written to be a swashbuckling fun adventure. And it was, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if that part of it was either a slower build, or if the romance were left out completely. But hey, it's a fairy tale romance, it's meant to be a fairy tale romance, so you probably shouldn't take that criticism from me to mean much. I can't fault a book for being something it is supposed to be. The rest of the story I really did enjoy. So, if you are one that enjoys books with fairy tale romances like this, than it is definitely worth checking out.