Troubled Waters (Elemental Blessings Novels) Mass Market Paperback – 27 Sep 2011
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About the Author
Sharon Shinn is a journalist who works for a trade magazine. Her first novel, The Shapechanger's Wife, was selected by Locus as the best first fantasy novel of 1995. She has won the William C. Crawford Award for Outstanding New Fantasy Writer, and was twice nominated for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. A graduate of Northwestern University, she has lived in the Midwest most of her life."
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Top customer reviews
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.
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.
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