“In Welce we affiliate ourselves with one of the five elements — fire, water, air, earth and wood. But there is more to it than that. Each element corresponds to a physical component. Fire and mind. Water and blood. Air and spirit. Wood and bone. Earth and flesh. But we’re never just one element. We realize we need all of our elements, all of our physical selves, to function in harmony.”
In the third book of her Elemental Blessings series, Sharon Shinn focuses the story on her fiery and reckless princess, Corene. Leaving behind a life of boring responsibilities and rules in Welce, Corene, and her faithful Royal Guard Foley, set sail for adventure in Malinqua.
Malinqua is a wealthy, more cosmopolitan neighboring country whose own royal family — in an attempt to strengthen ties to its trade partners — has made it widely known they are searching for princesses to marry their princes too. Deciding she would like to be be in the competition to rule a country other than her homeland of Welce, Corene becomes a guest of the royal family, moves into the Malinqua palace, and sets herself to the task of wooing the princes.
Corene is a sweela woman, aligned strongly with the element of fire, which makes her wild, tempestuous, often careless, and hot-tempered. During her childhood in the palace of Welce, she was raised by her cold and ruthless mother to be in a constant, cut-throat competition to be named that country’s queen. As a result of her mother’s influence, Corene is mistrustful of others and assumes everyone is determined to do whatever it takes to win. She arrives at the palace in Malinqua ready to hate the other foreign-born princesses and enter into a dirty fight to win the hand of the most eligible Malinqua prince. Her only ally, she assumes, is Foley her faithful guard.
To her great shock, the other women brought to Malinqua do not become her enemies but loyal and loving friends. The four women find that Malinqua is not a kind country and its royal family is cruel and violent. Soon the friends are working as a team to keep each other safe from the deadly scheming of the royal family. Foley’s presence at her side becomes more vital than ever and the two of them grow very close and Corene begins to realize that she has come to just trust Foley with her life and with her heart as well.
Corene finds the best sides of herself emerge: she is fiery but “a thinker as well as a lover. Creative and passionate and full of imagination.” She puts these talents to the task of keeping herself and her new friends safe, with help from Foley, of course.
Jeweled Fire was the best of the elemental Blessing books so far, and I am looking forward to reading the next one, Unquiet Land.