Troubled Waters

Troubled Waters

by Sharon Shinn
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
Published on 2010
Pages: 391
Format: Hardcover Source: Library
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Zoe Ardelay has been living in the country ever since her father was exiled for giving advice that the King did not agree with.  Now her father is dead and immediately an adviser to the King appears to escort Zoe back to the city.  She has been chosen to be the King's fifth wife.

This isn't a request and Zoe has nothing keeping her in her village anymore.  She is numb and doesn't care what happens to her now.

In this fantasy world everyone is characterized by the element that they embody.  Zoe is coru.  Her element is water.  Every child is also given three blessings from strangers when they are five hours old.  The blessings are written on coins and are pulled randomly from a barrel in the temple.  People also pull blessings for themselves whenever they need guidance.

At first this seems like a typical parent dies/girl becomes queen out of no where story.  It doesn’t stay that way for long.  Zoe grew up in the city and as soon as she gets there she escapes.  She lives in a squatter’s camp on the banks of the river and learns how to make her own life.  Once her basic needs are met she starts to question what has happened since she and her father fled.  She knows that her mother was also part of a powerful family.  What has happened to them?

I liked the fact that Zoe changed from a very passive character at the beginning of this book to a woman who took charge of her own destiny.  Her father’s character also changed.  She saw him as a hero at the beginning and then she learns more and realizes that he wasn’t the man she thought he was.

I love the three blind woman who sit in the market square and give out knowledge.  People pay to ask questions.  If the woman feels that she gave more information than she received, she keeps the money.  If the questioner has information to share, she gives the money back.  Those three women know everything!

A good portion of this book focuses on building a life in the city and the squatter’s camp.  It seems like a peaceful, if tenuous, life with no extraneous belongings or responsibilities.  Zoe loves it.  When she starts asking questions and gets pulled back into the political life of the city she is very sad to let this life go.

I’m looking forward to reading the next book set in this world which features a character from this one who is a different element – air.

Joy’s review of the series so far