The author of the Twelve Hours series welcomes readers to a new fantasy world, where the elements rule.
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.
©2010 Sharon Shinn (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
"This entertaining and suspenseful story is full of lively characters, and the intriguing new system of magic and politics provides plenty of potential for sequels." (Publishers Weekly)
"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." (Fantasy Literature)
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
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.
This book is a coming of the age story of a woman who lost her father and finds her that she inherited family magic. I really liked the story and the voice/style of the narrator.
The story flows from a humble beginning of Zoe to her becoming a formidable power fairly smoothly. I really liked the main character Zoe, although she seemed too good and straight-laced some time. So it was a surprise when she got so upset at the end she causes such havoc. She just didn't seem the "type." I think that was too sudden, though I do understand her surprise and panic.
I find the premise of this kingdom interesting and I hope there is a next book. It seems to me that Zoe's adventure and her self discovery just got started. Looking forward to reading more.
i just love sharon shinn's writing. this one is rather slower paced than most and it took me a while to get into. in fact, i nearly gave up after part 1 but decided to stick with it. the pace really picks up at the beginning of part 2.
i thoroughly enjoyed this book. the characters are interesting, the reading excellent and the world-view created is beautifully thought through. i was really sorry to get to the end and frantically searched audible for more of sharon's work. i had a thoroughly enjoyable 10 hours or so listening. am so looking forward for the rest of the series. one of my most enjoyable listens on audible. more sharon shinn. please!
I haven't read the printed version, so it's hard to say. But the performance is fine, and allows us to engage in the story, so it works great as an audio book.
This story is an easy read (or listen), with an engaging story, likable characters and enough court intrigue to make things interesting. Although you can guess where the romantic interest will be rather early on, as "brain candy" this story is the perfect entertainment when you don't want to think too hard afterwards. At the same time, it's not so fluffy and light that your teeth will ache (as per the candy reference).
Sharon Shinn has created a very interesting world in this novel, and I'd love to read more stories from it.
I liked the heroine, but over all I thought most of the characters were well thought out and performed. Sometimes Van Dyck couldn't keep the accents straight, but it wasn't much of a problem.
Go listen to this! :)
What I liked about this story
The fully fleshed culture. Sharon Shinn really knows how to create a culture with a fully realized set of beliefs, and traditions. And she carries this through very well, explaining celebrations, as well as daily rituals and interactions. It feels like a real place that I would love to go to and study, it's full bodied! I also enjoyed how we really move around the whole world, following our character through a nice variety of living situations. We really get a sense of how everyone lives, and how this world sustains itself. I belive this storys strengths are in these day to day reactions and lives. The window into each little world contained within the larger whole. It's the over arching connection that is a little weak.
What I didn't like
The love story is a bit weak, a long the lines of "And they were soul mates, Ta-da!" The main character is almost a little too powerful, and a little too unchecked. Answers were sometimes a little to ready at hand. Evil characters are too easily an embodiment of all ills.
Overall, I enjoyed a lot of the elements of this book, and it's a nice light-hearted listen. I will probably listen to this again in a casual manner if I'm doing housework or the like.
I love clean books of all sorts. Love mysteries, fantasies epic to kids stories, fairy tales, romances, humor, and historical fiction
This is a good solid fantasy with some romance in it. This book reminded me of an Anne McAffrey book with no dragons, but magical powers displayed instead. It is a mild adventure with a sweet romance that doesn't contain an explicit scene at all. Thank you Sharan Shinn! It is mostly character driven and I, at least, really enjoyed the characters. I feel the world was very well-drawn and the characters, magic and plot were interesting. The story has an ending where there are a few loose ends, but the main plot and romance do get tied up. The main character starts out with a will about the consistency of milk toast -- very vulnerable, and ends up with a backbone of steel with immense power and capabilities. I thought it was solidly written. It isn't an action packed adventure, but it is a good story. Anyway, I'm glad to have found this author and I will check out some of her other books. If you like character-driven stories and lovely, sweet romances, you will enjoy this story. I have no complaints with the narrator other than a minor character accent problem. No other problems, otherwise it was very well narrated.
After enjoying the Twelve Houses series, I was delighted to see a new Sharon Shinn book! This one is fun, and leaves lots of potential for more books in a series.
Romantic fiction is not my favourite genre, and I usually avoid it. However, this is a romance with a difference, and one i found both interesting and enjoyable. The main reason for this is its layered structure, and elemental references.
Beneath the obvious storyline, runs a current of Medieval and Renaissance thought, wherein the traditional four elements form the basis for a theory of medicine and psychology known as the 'four humours'. These correspond with particular physical and mental characteristics of personality types.
In medical and also magical thought, health and harmonious living can only exist when the elements are in balance. The novel illustrates the chaos which ensues when one element dominates over the others, or goes out of control. In addition, it makes interesting references to the inter-personal relationships between people of the different personality types - e.g. wood, water, fire, and air. Also, fate has a hand in events, as evidenced by the random selection of "blessings".
If i had read the book purely for the story, I would probably have been disappointed. But it seems that Sharon Shinn wove a narrative in support of her main theme, which then in fact became the sub-theme, to make it more palatable to modern readers, and which culminated in a thoroughly enjoyable read.
I appreciated the depth of this book, whilst on the surface seeming to be a simple romance. If any listeners know of more books like it, I'd love to hear about them.
Well done to both Sharon Shinn, and the narrator Jennifer van Dyck.
I'm going to say the "bad" first - why does the narrator pronounce the name "Zoe" - the main character - as ZO? It's Zo-ee and always has been, whether it's spelled Zoe or Zoey. Hearing Zo Zo Zo throughout the book is really frustrating.
That said, the narrator does a great job, I enjoyed listening to this very much.
In pursuit of truth, justice, and an end to spoilers!
Sharon Shinn is a lovely writer, and I’ve been fond of Jennifer Van Dyck’s narrations since I first heard her read. Buying this book was an easy decision!
The world-building was excellent, and I especially liked the magical elements. Each person has a special affiliation to a magical element, as well as three magical “random blessing” tokens given at birth. It gave a unique flavor to a storyline where several strong families have a lot of political pull along with the king. Fans of the author might see this as a nod to the Twelve Houses series taken in an entirely new direction.
The first half of the book had a lot of traveling around, learning all there is to learn about a new place, and then moving along and starting over. I find that can get dull, so I was glad when Zoe finally found her real place in the story about midway through and the plot picked up. The move from vagabond to high court was a big plus.
There’s a strong young adult feeling to this storyline even though Zoe is one of the few young adults. It’s not so much the characters themselves, but more the way big life changes and magical powers occasionally bloom forth and are accepted by everyone. There are a lot of nice, gentle people who look out for one another. Horrible things are more likely to happen in faraway places. Magic can save the day.
The book ends very solidly, but it looks like a follow-up book has just been published. Ah, now all that world-building makes more sense! But this could easily be read as a stand-alone book if you don’t want to commit to a series. I was very surprised to see one reviewer call this book a cliff-hanger. All the main conflicts get resolved, so don’t be worried if series aren’t your thing.
Overall this was a relaxing, easy listen, nicely written and well narrated. Not Shinn’s best, but a pleasing little fantasy story (once it got going), and I’ll be getting the follow-up book. But then, series are my thing. ;)
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