Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn
The first in the Elemental Blessings series, Troubled Waters introduces us to the world of Welce where babies are given blessings when they are born. The blessings are divided into Elay (air/soul), Hunti (wood/bone), Sweela (fire/mind), Coru (water/blood), Torz (Earth/flesh), with three Extraordinary blessings of synthesis, triumph and time. Zoe Ardelay is Coru, keeping her village always supplied with water. She is devastated by the death of her father, Navarr Ardelay, and when Darien Serlast arrives to take her to Chialto, the capital of the country, she follows him believing that she has been chosen to be the fifth wife of the king. She manages to slip away and hide on the shores of the mighty Marisi River, where she comes to the realisation that she is the Coru Prime with extraordinary power over water and blood.
Shinn’s authorship strength lies in her ability to build up a completely believable world that combines magic, intrigue and a country that is just beginning to leave the horse drawn form of transport behind, with the introduction of elaymotives. Her stories are always character driven. Zoe is a young woman, just learning to be independent and to control her power, while trying to understand Darien Serlast, who is Hunti, strong and determined. Their romance simmers slowly, but never overtakes Zoe’s story.
Danger faces Zoe and the royal princesses as her Coru abilities start to unravel the secrets that the royal family are hiding. There is intrigue, attempted murder and bitter rivalries at the court, and readers will delight in Zoe’s growth in maturity and skill.
Troubled waters is followed by Royal airs, Jeweled Fire, Unquiet land and Whispering Wood, and is a favourite series when I need feel good books to colour my life.
Themes: Fantasy, Court intrigue, Blessings.