11 November, 2013

Sharon Shinn's Royal Airs, a book report

If you like young adult novels, maybe you would like one of my favorite YA authors - Sharon Shinn.  She actually writes both YA and non-YA. I just finished her latest, Royal Airs. It is the second in a series about a place called Welce, where everyone's personalities and traits are determined by the five elements: air, water, fire, stone, and wood. (Those are actually the five elements of traditional Chinese medicine, horoscopes, etc.)

The first book, Troubled Waters, was very good. I'd give it a 8 out of 10. Royal Airs brings back some of the characters from the book and introduces some new ones. I'd give it a 6 or 7 out of 10. The slightly lower rating is because the last half of the book was just one long middle, a set up for the next book in the series. Spoilers ahead, so beware.

Zoe Ardelay, the coru (water) Prime shows up again, but in this book her sisters Corene and Josetta take more center stage. Josetta, an elay (air/spirit) woman, is finally freed from the castle and most of her political burdens. She lives in the poor section of the capital city, trying to help the needy and is happier than she ever was when she was in line for the crown. But even if you are a sort-of-almost-ex Princess, you have responsibilities.

I like Josetta. I like Corene. I like Rafe Adova, the mysterious gambler who rescues Corene from a dangerous situation. The two characters I don't like are Alys, Corene's horrible mother, and Darien Serlast, Corene's hunti father, who is Regent of Welce and a humorless, poker up the ass jerk. I know we are supposed to believe that he does all the things he does because he cares about everyone so deeply and he believes he is helping them; but he's a bully and manipulative bastard.

If you want to read something really charming by Shinn, check out the Safe-Keepers series:
The Safe-Keeper's Secret, The Truth-Teller's Tale, and The Dream-Maker's Magic. Also, General Winston's Daughter, a stand alone tale.

Do yourself a favor and skip Jenna Starborn, a not-great retelling of Jane Eyre.

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