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Review: Jeweled Fire by Sharon Shinn

Review: Jeweled Fire by Sharon Shinn published on

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The national bestselling author of Troubled Waters and Royal Airs returns to her Elemental Blessings series with the story of a young princess who will need more than blessings to survive in a kingdom where everyone will do whatever it takes to claim the throne…

As one of the four princesses of Welce, Corene always thought she might one day become queen. Only circumstances changed, leaving fiery Corene with nothing to show for a life spent playing the game of court intrigue—until a chance arises to become the ruler of a nearby country.

After stowing away on a ship bound for Malinqua with her loyal bodyguard, Foley, Corene must try to win the throne by making a play to marry one of the empress’s three nephews. But Corene is not the only foreign princess in search of a crown.

Unaccustomed to being anyone’s friend, Corene is surprised to find companionship among her fellow competitors. But behind Malinqua’s beautiful facade lie many secrets.

The visiting princesses are more hostages than guests. And as the deadly nature of the court is revealed, Corene must rely on both her new allies and Foley’s unwavering protection—for the game she has entered is far more perilous than she ever imagined…

Sharon Shinn occupies an interesting spot in the world of science fiction and fantasy writing, hovering as she does right between both. The angelic culture she introduced in her first Samaria novel, Archangel, seemed straight up fantasy, but in later books the science fiction elements were revealed. Her Elemental Blessings novels are not nearly as fantastical as her Twelve Houses series. Here, the society she built in Troubled Waters and Royal Airs is poised on the brink of industrial revolution, ushered along by a crazy man with a singular connection to air magic.

I’ve really enjoyed reading about the Welchin society. Shinn always offers something unique in her books, and the surprises and twists inherent in her stories are well thought-out and often remarkable. Welce is a place of magical blessings anyone can have (and, in fact, the parents of infants are culturally bound to acquire the blessings their baby will hold to for the rest of his or her life on the day he or she is born). These blessings are separated into categories: hunti (wood), sweela (fire), coru (water), torz (earth), and elay (air). The Primes of each possess a connection to the actual element, and even now, three books into the series, it’s not entirely certain what these powers entail.

The heroine of Jeweled Fire is a sweela sort-of princess with a complicated history, and a penchant for mischief. Said mischief has taken across the sea, away from family, and into a rat’s maze of imperial politics. Here is where the former princess begins to shine. Shinn has written a delicate coming-of-age story for a headstrong girl, and it’s wonderful.

More interestingly, the stakes are hugely high. Corene is placed in very real, very frightening danger. Shinn is never an exploitative writer, but the later pages of Jeweled Fire contain a subtle darkness that makes Corene’s fiery nature even more brilliant.

Jeweled Fire is An Elemental Blessings Novel (Book 3), and will be released November 3, 2015. It can be pre-ordered on Amazon HERE.

The next book in the series is called Dangerous Grounds, and will be published in 2016.

 

J Wilbanks

J Wilbanks

Reviewer and Columnist at Galleywampus
She has a cat.
J Wilbanks

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