Author: Sharon Shinn
Publication: Ace Hardcover (October 5, 2010)
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.
My Thoughts: This was a wonderfully written and rich fantasy in a new world. People are controlled by one of five elements. When they are born, their parents collect blessings for them that indicate their futures. Zoe Ardelay is a coru (blood/water) woman. Her father drew beauty, love and power for her when she was born. She is also a descendant of one of the five most powerful families in the kingdom even though she and her father have been in exile for some years. Immediately after her father's death, a court official named Darien Serlast comes to find her and bring her to the capital to be the king's fifth wife. She leaves him in the city and goes to the river to live. There she meets friends and has time to decide for herself what she wants for her life.
Zoe learns that her mother's family has been searching for her because she is the heir to her dead grandmother. She is also the head of the family and has power over water. Her new position forces her to go to court and get involved in politics. She manages to make great changes there. She and Darien Serlast form a relationship but he is is a hunti man (wood/bone). At first, their personalities don't seem to be compatible. She isn't sure she can trust him because she knows he has lied to her in the past. I liked the quiet romance that develops between the two of them.
I very much enjoyed learning about this world. I will admit that I looked back at the descriptions of the five elements and the traits that were associated with them frequently as I read the book. The world was rich and well-developed. I highly recommend it to fantasy lovers for its rich language, interesting characters, and strong world-building.
Stepping out of the elaymotive had been an act of sheer impulse; she had no plan. Should she go to her aunt's house and ask for succor? Seek out her father's brother and hope for rescue? Continue on to the palace and fling herself at Darien Serlast's feet, begging for mercy? Stop at a temple and pray for guidance?
The last time she had stepped into a temple, all the guidance she had received was the word surprise. She supposed, after all, that the blessing must be read as true. This time, she had even surprised herself.