A new fantasy novel from Sharon Shinn, a writer who specialises in fantasy and science fiction novels with strong heroines and a touch of romance.
This one runs for three hundred and ninety nine pages and is divided into thirty three chapters.
It's a completely new setting for any stories from this writer, with no tie ins at all to any of her previous work or series. And it is pretty much self contained, although it does leave the door open for more stories from this world and with these characters at the same time.
Our heroine is Zoe Ardelay. The world she lives in is quite an interesting creation because although this is a fantasy world it's more advanced than the usual one. The level of civilisation and technology is largely 18th - 19th century from our world, and rudimentary vehicles feature. But the land is ruled over by a King. And there's magic all around. In the elements. And everyone is attuned to one of them in particular. People will go to temples and draw out coins from there which have symbols on them that give guidance.
Zoe has been living in a remote village with her father, who was exiled from the royal court. But he has just passed away. Soon after the funeral she is summoned to the royal court. To become the King's latest wife. She travels there with Darien, a rather serious man who was sent to summon her. But she takes a chance to slip away and to find and her own path in life. Which is one that reveals she has a great deal of power.
All of which will come in handy when dealing with the intrigues that await...
This is not a book of incident for the most part. It's one of character and of setting. Two things that this writer excels at. And the first half of the book does pass by very nicely as it deals with this. The world you're introduced to is a fascinating creation and Zoe is a very appealing lead. And the supporting characters she interacts with as she learns about her surroundings are an appealing lot as well.
This does treaten to sag a little when it gets beyond that point as Zoe is put into a different setting. But then it grabs again thanks to some intrigue and drama and a whole new set of interesting relationships for her.
Plus a very nciely handled romance. Another thing that the writer excels at.
A likeable heroine in an interesting and genuninely original fantasy setting results in a very good read.