“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.” From Jeweled Fire (Book #3)
Sharon Shinn has created a fantasy series that is about women and for women; one that fulfills our desire for books that are both rich in setting as well as story. Exotic lands, mystical people, curious customs, magic, desire, and danger are all present in her stories. Missing — thankfully — are the misogynistic story-lines and female characters, common in male-written fantasy novels, that exist only to be rape victims or scheming wives. Instead Shinn’s Elemental Blessings series has created four female-centric novels where the women are powerful, sensual, and intelligent; women who rule their country with peace and prosperity, and who are partners with — not the property of — the men in their lives. Additionally, by focusing on the affiliation the characters have to the natural elements, she creates a wonderful framework for her world: one that is balanced, rich, and nourishing.
The latest installment of Sharon Shinn’s Elemental Blessings series, Unquiet Land, returns readers once again to the far-away, magical land of Welce and back into the chaos of that country’s royal family. Just as the author did in the first three books, Unquiet Land, introduces us to a fiercely intelligent, independent, and spirited young heroine — Leah Frothen. Leah is a young woman affiliated with Earth and Flesh elements, a woman who yearns deeply to be in her homeland and be surrounded by her family but who instead has lived away from them for five years to serve as a spy in foreign lands. Finally returned to Welce and back with her loving extended family, Leah begins to allow herself to hope that a life of stability and tranquility can be hers. Before she can begin to create that quiet life for herself, she is called on by the King to resume her spying.
Soon Leah finds herself courting foreign visitors whose appetites for debauchery and violence make them very dangerous people to entertain; people who would be deadly foes if they found out her secret agreement with the King. Calling upon her newly renewed ties to her extended family and her relationships with some of the seedier residents of Welce’s capital city, she begins to suspect that her visitors are responsible for a string of terrifying crimes and might possibly have plans to harm the royal family.
A well-written novel that is entertaining and unique as well as romantic, with a new heroine that is as fiery and likable as the first three (and with the added bonus of bringing back two of Shinn’s heroines from books one and two.)