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Troubled Waters (Ace Fantasy Book) [Mass Market Paperback]

Sharon Shinn
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
RRP: 4.83
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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 399 pages
  • Publisher: Ace Books; Reprint edition (27 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441020895
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441020898
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 10.4 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 430,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent offering from Ms Shinn 27 Nov 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Troubled Waters tells the tale of Zoe Ardelay who is called back to the royal city after the death of her father to become the king's fifth wife. The novel takes her on a journey to discover the depths of her power both mystically and of her personality.

This book contains many elements familiar to readers of Sharon Shinn's other novels. There is of course the very gentle romance that develops although with more suspicion on the part of the heroine than usual. There is also a genuine sense of mystery as Zoe tries to uncover all the secrets of her father. In particular like her Twelve Houses series this book has characters who have mystical abilities divided into specific groups in this case: earth, air, fire, water and wood. The author does her usual excellent job of weaving this mystical concept into all of the world building.

Set in a different world to any of her previous novels this one has some particularly enjoyable differences. The drawing of blessings, coins with certain symbols, is a theme throughout the book and is an interesting concept. You can have a look at the symbols assigned to each blessing on Ms Shinn's website. Another difference from the Twelve Houses is that everyone has a mixture of the five elemental traits and there is a lot of reference to characteristics of individuals as being more of one than another.

As to be expected with Ms Shinn all the characters are well drawn so that even minor characters have a depth to them. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and would love to spend some more time exploring this world. I can only hope Ms Shinn writes a sequel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Rich, romantic fantasy 9 Jan 2014
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
I love the heroine of this novel, Zoe, who is strong and passionate and warm-hearted and has a temper that can be terrible. I love the way she progresses from feeling like an empty shell at the beginning of the book, hollowed out by grief, to finding her own true power (and a perfect partner, too, along the way). I love the rich worldbuilding and the fabulous magic of the story. The romance is a subplot, not the main plot, but it's wonderfully handled. I can't wait to read the sequel, about one of one of my favorite side-characters in this book!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Decent Shinn 21 Jan 2013
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a diverting read, though not Sharon Shinn at her very best. Completists should get it and it's a good intro to her style.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The power of the elements 25 Jun 2012
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
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.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  73 reviews
45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Beginning to a New Series 7 Oct 2010
By L. Loyd - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm a big Sharon Shinn fan, and this newest novel does not disappoint! Zoe Ardelay has been living in exile with her father since she was 13, and as the novel opens he has just passed away and a royal messenger arrives to bring her to the royal city and marry the king. In the new world of Welce that Shinn has created, there are 5 "traits" that must be in balance, and Zoe is of high birth and possesses the blood/water trait that is needed at the palace. As any reader of Shinn knows, though, her heroines rarely do exactly what they're supposed to. Zoe escapes from her escort and finds her own way once they reach the royal city, supporting herself while she figures out what she wants to do with the rest of her life. As is par for the course with Shinn, too, there is a love story arc woven in, though it is not the primary focus of the book. Zoe has to find her place as an aristocrat in this society, and unravel the mystery of why her father was banished and her mothers family cut all ties with her. (Or did they...)

While fans of the Twelve Houses series will find echoes of the same courtly intrigue and politicking, and while the world Zoe lives in reminded me quite a bit of the world of the Safekeepers Secret series (Shinn's lovely Young Adult trilogy), and even while Zoe herself brings to mind the contrariness of Tamar in "The Alleluia Files," the book is entirely separate from all of these. Rather than reading as a rehash of earlier work, it comes off as the best of Shinn's repertoire; she has really hit her stride.

One of my favorite parts of her novels has always been the background culture on which she structures her
storylines (the Gloria in the Samaria series, the solstice gatherings in the Safekeepers Secret series) and the in-depth background of this world is particularly charming--there are 'blessings' by which people guide their lives. Each child receives three blessings at birth that remain with them, while at any time one can visit a temple to pick a random blessing that is thought to give them divine guidance pertaining to thier lives at the moment. This is utilized in the novel both by showing how Zoe's life is shaped by her birth blessing of Power, and by her consultations periodically of the random temple blessings, but her blood/water trait (called Coru in the novel) leaves plenty of room for subsequent books pursuing other characters with different primary traits.

Bottom line: while some previous work has felt a little rushed ("Reader and Raelynx" struck me that way), this is a great stand-alone novel that also gives the reader hope for several new novels in this fascinating world.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wooden Characters and Contrived Plot 22 Feb 2011
By M. Gregory - Published on Amazon.com
I went into this book with high hopes as I like quite a bit of Sharon Shinn's work and enjoy fantasy novels with less war games and more political intrigue. However, I was really disappointed in this book and can only hope that if others follow, Shinn actually tries to develop her characters.

I won't go into the plot too much, as it has already been dissected a dozen times. I will say, however, that the characters Shinn chose to act out this often-written storyline - someone (a poor, common, or outsider someone) is brought to the court as an heir/a wife/a person of great power - were wooden and two-dimensional. I felt that there was little effort put into trying to develop any of the characters beyond stock stereotypes. Each of the king's wives was a caricature - almost as if you propped up some of Henry VIII's wives and exaggerated them. The main character was given to ridiculous bouts of temper, which ultimately offered resolution at the novel's end. And this was such a slipshod way to handle the story (honestly, how could Zoe's irrational - if not entirely unwarranted - lashing out been allowed at any court?) - as well as improbable. Also, the romance seemed contrived and, personally, I cared little for Darien.

However, this novel's saving grace and the reason, I believe, that it has garnered so many stars and the reason why I would read a sequel, is that the world Shinn has developed is quite intricate and interesting. Her religion has been well thought out, is believable and tangible. I liked the kingdom, and I even enjoyed the backstory. I feel that the problem with Troubled Waters is that it relied so heavily on the surrounding world that the characters and storyline were never fully developed. Hopefully, subsequent novels will have more ingenuity in their characters and plots.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Audio version 13 Jan 2011
By Kat Hooper - Published on Amazon.com
Zoe Ardelay and her father, once the king's closest advisor, have been in exile for ten years. After her father dies, the king's new advisor, Darien Serlast, shows up in Zoe's village to escort her back to court because she's been chosen to be the king's fifth wife. At first Zoe is numb with grief and shock, but by the time they reach the capital city her "water" personality asserts itself and she begins to flow around the obstacles in her way -- obstacles such as Darien himself, a man of "wood" who's strong, stubborn, and immovable.

Filled with vivid characters, beautiful scenery, sweet friendships, surprising destinies, political intrigue, mystery, a slow satisfying romance, and an interesting take on personality types, Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn is a book that just feels good. I listened to the audio version produced by Audible Frontiers and read by Jennifer Van Dyck. It was 14 hours long, but I enjoyed it so much that I finished it over a weekend, which kind of annoyed my family. I even considered trying to extract myself from a couple of social engagements so I could spend time with Zoe instead.

Troubled Waters is definitely a romance -- and some of the verbal sparring felt a bit contrived, as if set up just to create that tension -- yet mostly the romance brews in the background as Zoe navigates her way through her changed world. Some readers won't believe in the romance, and others might feel that things work out too easily for Zoe, but I enjoyed this low-stress novel. It features a strong and likable heroine, a love-interest who's my kind of guy, a diverse supporting cast, a leisurely pace, and it focuses on a variety of human relationships. It is likely to appeal mostly to women.

Troubled Waters can be read as a satisfying stand-alone story, but there may be more books to come. If so, I'll definitely be picking them up. Meanwhile, I'll be trying out some more novels by Sharon Shinn.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite as good as Mystics and Riders series 12 Oct 2010
By Anne Doherty - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Some of my favorite fantasy novels were the Mystics and Riders series. And I was expecting a lot from Troubled Waters, because Sharon Shinn created such realistic and engaging characters in that series, with plots that were both character and action driven. In Troubled Waters, I felt that the main character was hard to relate to. The decisions that Zoe made didn't seem consistent (even given that her character, governed by water, was supposed to be changeable). Zoe felt contrived to me. Also, although there was much detailed description, the story didn't come alive. It seem a lot of the author's focus was to develop the underpinnings of the world she was creating in this series (I'm assuming it will be a series). On the plus side, the concepts of the novel were extremely interesting. There are many fine characters, and a rich world in which to spin new plots. I can imagine the next book could be amazingly engaging and entertaining.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A novel so calm it becomes dull as a doornail 29 Dec 2011
By Lilly Flora - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
I've always been a huge fan of Sharon Shinn- her stand- alone novels in particular. So after her latest series was over I was really looking forward to reading "Troubled Waters." But this book is just so dull. I have never read anything that held my interest less or which less happened or in which the characters were less interesting. I know I'm being harsh but I can't help it. It's just so dull.

I suppose you could also describe it as extremely calm. In every way.

Shinn has created a new universe in which the people believe very firmly that five basic elements (air, wood, fire, water, earth) and three random `blessings' ( virtues stamped on coins and picked after the birth of an infant) govern their lives and define them as people. There are those who are especially drawn to an element and may have some control it, all heads of the five most important families in town. They are called Primes.

The story begins when, just after her father's funeral, Zoe Ardelay, is informed that she is to be the king's next bride. Because her father, once the kings advisor, had been exiled years before from the capital this makes little sense to Zoe and when given the opportunity she runs away to live on the banks of the river, which always gives her comfort.

Soon it is decided that Zoe, is in fact, the water prime. This position gives her immense power, not only over water but also in her personal life and politically.

There is basically no plot to this book. There are two or three exciting scenes but they aren't written in a way to make the reader excited. It's just too dull. Reading this was like being trapped in a dust cloud. There's too much detail and too little at the same time, not enough dialog and preternaturally calm characters who can't speak normally and seem to always have a speech composed in their heads to give at the next opportune moment.

I hate giving a bad review to a book by an author I normally love the books of, but I had to force myself to finish it. This book was badly written. Very little plot, annoying characters and minimal action made for a bad combination.

Two stars. I hope this isn't going to be a series- I'd love to read more Shinn writes if she comes up with something new.
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