Sunday, October 10, 2010

Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn

Troubled Waters

I read many books this week while bedridden and a few towered over the crowd. (It looks like another one will, too, but I haven't finished it yet: Coronets and Steel by Sherwood Smith.) None of them were directly fairy tale related because my brain couldn't handle it. 

Anyway, so many of you read and love the same stuff I do, fairy tale related or not, so I thought I would write about Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn, her brand new book which was released this week. 

Publisher's description:

Zoe Ardelay receives astonishing and unwelcome news: she has been chosen to become the king's fifth wife. Forced to go to the royal city, she manages to slip away and hide on the shores of the mighty river.

It's there that Zoe realizes she is a coru prime ruled by the elemental sign of water. She must return to the palace, not as an unwilling bride for the king, but a woman with power in her own right. But as Zoe unlocks more of the mysteries of her blood-and the secrets of the royal family-she must decide how to use her great power to rise above the deceptions and intrigue of the royal court.
Such a simple description for a rich book that reads like a fairy tale really. I am a sucker for books about elemental powers, (such as Midori Snyder's Oran Trilogy and even Mercedes Lackey who mixes it up with fairy tales in her Elemental Masters series, although the earlier ones in that series are much more readable than the later ones for me).  I am also a sucker for Sharon Shinn.  She is an automatic buy and this week she hooked me twice for I had preordered the hardcover and ended up downloading the Kindle version to make it easier to read while sick.  Best medicine all week besides the actual meds prescribed by my doc.

Anyway, as always, Shinn writes wonderful characters, tells a good story and world builds so that I want to go traveling.  (I wish it were possible to actually take a vacation to Luminaux from her Samaria series.)  There is always the risk that I will be disappointed in a new series, but I trust Shinn and she didn't disappoint me with this one. Samaria will always be my favorite, but I adore so many of her books that it doesn't really matter what she writes, I will buy it.  Often more than once.

The best part of this book is the main character Zoe, who is wonderfully flawed.  She gets angry, makes bad decisions, learns about the bad decisions of others and deals with betrayal and grief. She is also smart and savvy, never weak, even when grief leads her into inaction for a while. She is very real.  I hope she will appear as a minor character in future entries in the series as Shinn never gives characters two books of their own.

I also enjoyed the court intrigue--Shinn has played with that before in her Summers at Castle Auburn, a stand-alone novel.  Almost all of the intrigue in this novel centers around the king's four wives and their machinations. This one is about women's power.

There is also a subtle romance for those who enjoy that, too.

So that is my scatterbrained review.  If you are a Shinn fan, don't be afraid of a new series.  If you don't know her work, this is a fine place to start although I do love Samaria so much...

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