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Troubled Waters (Elemental Blessings #1)

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  7,787 Ratings  ·  755 Reviews
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
Mass Market Paperback, 416 pages
Published September 27th 2011 by Ace (first published May 10th 2010)
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Anna I think the whole book is a romance, right from the start. In a way, fairly traditionally, they meet and don't hit it off. They keep meeting and don't…moreI think the whole book is a romance, right from the start. In a way, fairly traditionally, they meet and don't hit it off. They keep meeting and don't trust each other, then eventually (inevitably?) they realize how much they mean to each other and how well suited they are for each other despite their differing natures.

Having said all that, (which seems kind of insulting as I re-read it) I really enjoy this book and have re-read it a number of times. I really enjoy Zoe's journey, love the world building and the whole idea of the random blessings in the temple.

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies
It's always risky for me to reread a book. As I grow older, I find that my tastes have changed, and even more so, I find myself becoming increasingly more critical of certain elements in books. I usually do not reread books, but recently, a friend asked me for YA high fantasy recommendations, and I remember enjoying this book when I first read it, 3 years ago. Thus, I decided to revisit this book, to see if it was as good as I remembered, because if I'm going to recommend it to my friend, I bett ...more
ETA 1/4/18
I think I enjoyed this book even more than when I read it first 2 years ago. Lovely story & writing, perfect world-building, great characterisation. Sharon Shinn is a fantastic writer.

Original review
If you are looking for bloody wars on immense scales with mythical creatures of the apocalypse, sword fights, violent deaths, foul conspiracy, fast pacing - this may not be the book for you to read. But if you are open to something different, you may end up enjoying this novel.

I decid
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Troubled Waters is a really lovely high fantasy novel; I liked it almost as much as my favorite (so far) Sharon Shinn book, Summers at Castle Auburn. Zoe is the daughter of a once-powerful man in the kingdom of Welce, who lived in hiding in a small village for ten years after falling from the king's favor. As the story begins, Zoe's father has just died, and the king's closest advisor, Darien Serlast, swoops into town with the surprise announcement that Zoe has been chosen to be the king's fifth ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Although I liked Archangel, I believe Troubled Waters has been the last Sharon Shinn novel for me. At the moment new authors sprout out of the ground like grass - or nettles - so it relieves me a great deal to cross one off my observation list. I know that this decision is probably a harsh one after just one and a half tries, especially since Troubled Waters is not a bad story.

There is nothing blatantly wrong with the writing or the characters or the setting. Really. It is rather the other way
Audiobook re-read April 2018

This is probably my favorite book.

Audiobook re-read February 2017

Comfort read. <3

Audiobook re-read October 2015

I love this book sooooooo much.

Re-read January 2015

Still love this a lot, although this time I think the rest of the book worked better for me than the ending!

And I got my sequel! (That I just started last night.) Oooh, and GoodReads is listing a third book. Yes!

Original review

Ahhhhh. This one of those books where it took me forever to get through the firs
Sep 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This is what I would call a fantasy lite story and, as such, is an easily accessible tale for those who may usually shy away from fantasy stories, believing them to be too dense and foreign-feeling to make for non-stressful reading. This is the story of how 23 year old Zoe Ardelay grows out from under the shadow of her larger-than-life father - whom she joined in banishment from the royal court some ten years earlier.

It's a nice story, easily processed and digested, and Zoe makes for a likable
Carol (StarAngel's Reviews) Allen
3.5 Blessing Stars

This was a pretty decent book but I found myself getting to caught up in figuring which blessing belonged to which house and what personality really meant - whether it was blood, or water, or air...etc.

I also would have liked the story to revolve a bit more around Darien... xo
 Simply Sam ツ
Dec 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
While this is not quite a "OMG I'm in LOVE!!!" 5 star book for me it came pretty close to being at least a "loved it" 5 star-er. However, in the end, sadly, I went with 4 stars because it was just missing that spark that would have pushed it from good to brilliant. You know, that spark, that connection, that emotional bond you feel when reading something you find truly fantastic. I'd hoped I'd find it somewhere in these pages. In fact when I started this one I felt sure that I would but it just ...more
It takes only one line of a Sharon Shinn novel to hook me. Ever since reading Archangel earlier last year, I've known that Shinn was an author I'd be re-visiting; an author whose backlog I'd be pouring through dutifully and savoring as the years pased by. While I enjoyed Archangel immensely, the distasteful covers of the entire Samaria Series prevented me from picking them off the shelves of my library. A shameful excuse, I know. Shinn, and the genre of Adult Fantasy, in fact, had dropped off my ...more
Gillian Berry
4.5 stars

Okay so Sharon Shinn is MAGIC and I was fully not prepared for this book at all. It's such a slow build, starting off mild and muffled and then as Zoe, our mild muffled protagonist, slowly discovers herself, so do we, and then it's like...GAH. If i wanted to get all nit picky I could about the pacing and certain plot elements, but my feels totally override them. I adore the world in this book. It's one of my favorite fantasy religions ever, and I loved the way it informed every aspect o
Sep 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
4.75 stars. It started off a bit slow for me, and to be fair, this is not exactly what I expected. And yet, I quite enjoyed it! It was an interesting elemental system, a pretty compelling plot of court intrigues and all centered around a girl who is coming into her own abilities and person. Definitely would continue reading this series!
I just re-read Sharon Shinn’s Troubled Waters and I loved it all over again. It has it all, a fascinating, cleverly conceived world building, with a protagonist that is always evolving, with beliefs and ideals with no aim to perfection. A story where there is just a light romance, and that secondary to the story, is utterly believable. There are court life and its power struggles. Not only friendship and reunions, but there are antagonisms and mistrusts. There is slow and credible simmering ro ...more
Olga Godim
Jan 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sharon-shinn
I love Sharon Shinn. She has done it again. She created a new world, a new highway to multiple sagas, and a new unforgettable heroine.
Numb with grief, Zoe just lost her father, a former adviser to royalty, banished from court ten years ago. When a young nobleman Darien arrives in Zoe’s village to take her back to the capital, the girl doesn’t resist, even when she learns that she is to become the fifth bride of the king.
At first, she seems passive and docile, an unlikely protagonist. She follo
Pamela J. (Fantasy Book Nook)
Review: This author was brought to my attention after reading Sarah J. Maas’s most recent newsletter where she named Shinn as one of her favorite authors. I’ll admit, this was compelling, as everything Sarah J. Maas writes is literally gold. Shinn has multiple series, and I most aligned with the premise for this one.

The verdict? Mixed.

I like the storyline, the world building is unique and the premise is interesting. It’s a world filled with magical powers related to the elements, which isn’t a
The book was slow. There was so much time spent on what was of little value and it just had me getting frustrated and hoping the author would just get on with the story.

The story might have been interesting, but I didn't at all like either of the two main protagonists.

Zoe. I think I would have been able to understand her walking away from Darien in the beginning were any sort of reasoning provided. There was no inclination from her about it one way or another. She literally just gets up and walk
Dec 11, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance, fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I was finished with this novel hours ago, but it took me some time to gather my thoughts and recover from the major disappointment that this book was for me.
Don't get me wrong, for the first half, I thought I had hit jackpot. This book had all the makings of an epic tale; a versatile, sympathetic heroine, interesting characters and powers, mystery, intrigue, a fascinating journey and political system, strange rituals and an amazing potential love interest. The whole deal about blessings was so f
Mar 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked up Sharon Shinn’s Troubled Waters at the suggestion of Sarah Maas. It had been quite a long time since I sank into an adult fantasy, and I’ll be honest: I had some trouble at first. I’m so used to the go-go-go! of YA, that the slower moving, deeper world-building of an adult book made it hard at first.

But by page 20, I was hooked. And despite the tiny print crammed onto 400 pages, I zoomed through the novel in two days.

I think my favorite thing about this book is the world. It’s like Av
A fascinating world, lovable and multilayered characters, beautiful writing. If I could, I'd give it more than 5 stars.

“There is nothing but heartache for a coru woman and a hunti man,” she said, deliberately contrary. “He cannot control her and she cannot change him.”
“He never fails her and she always moves him,” Darien corrected. “She can trust his strength, and he can be lifted by her joy.”
After living in exile with her father for many years Zoe returns the city of her childhood, Chialto, where she is to resume her life at court. But her life in a rural village hasn't done anything to prepare her for the many intrigues in the palace.

I liked this.
I didn't like this.

I don't know.

Not all that much happens. But when something does happen....when Zoe unleashes her elemental power, it's great. There's just a lot of dull stuff in between those great moments.
Mar 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
This is such a cozy sweater of a book. It's slow and intricate, and warm, and (before I get too tangled in this metaphor) quietly surprising. Sharon Shinn can build beautiful worlds and populate them with original, interesting people, and she's at her best right here.
Deborah Ideiosepius
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Loved this book!
Part of it is the pure joy of the unexpected; I had not hear of the book nor of the author, I picked it up at random off a shelf, started reading the first page and BAM! Hooked that fast!

From the first page I believed in and liked Zoe, by the second, I knew I was taking the book home with me and the next couple of days while I read it were delightful.

Once of the kings court Zoe is living in a tiny village with her father, once the king's counselor now hiding in exile. We come in

Let me start with things I loved in this book:

1) The plot was good. Nothing original but it was interesting to follow and I always feared that something unexpected may come up. This kept me reading.

2) Main character Zoe was strong and she never irritated me with her actions.

3) My favourite characters were Zoe's friends-servants Calvin and Annova. They both were very kind and took care of Zoë. Very loyal and likeable characters.

Now, to the part where I to complain:

My biggest issue was with rom
Rachel Neumeier
Oct 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My top three Sharon Shinn books? At the moment, that would be THE SHAPECHANGER'S WIFE, THE TRUTH TELLER'S TALE, and now TROUBLED WATERS.

If you love Patricia McKillip, then you should definitely read THE SHAPECHANGER'S WIFE. If you love YA fantasy, you should definitely read THE TRUTH-TELLER'S TALE. And if you love peaceful, flowing, beautifully written fantasy that doesn't rush you along too fast and lets you enjoy your stay in a charming non-gritty world? Well, then, hey, TROUBLED WATERS.

I was
Dec 07, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Shinn Fans
Shelves: fantasy
Zoe Ardelay was born to an affluent family, but her mother died and her father was banished from court for some undefined offense. Just after reaching adulthood, her father dies and Darien Serlast comes from the capitol, to take her to court to be the king's fifth wife. Complications ensue, magic abilities are discovered, and Zoe learns more about her family than she ever thought.

I approached this book with some trepidation. For the most part, I enjoy Shinn's novels, but every once in a while, s
From the thumbnail, I thought this girl was wearing one of those giant hotdog costumes. IMO, that deserves its own shelf.
Lolly's Library
Dec 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I don't think I can get enough of Sharon Shinn's writing (which is probably evidenced by my recent marathon of several of her books). There is something so calming, so uplifting about reading her books. Imaginative, melodic, engaging, entrancing, lyrical...I'm sure I could go on, but probably not without repeating myself at some point. I can't speak for all her novels, but of the ones I've read so far, the stories are always gently-told tales of fantasy, where the highs are never deliriously diz ...more
Dec 27, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Indeed, in ancient days, when people first identified themselves by their five intrinsic traits, it was believed that men and women were blessed with distinct and complementary strenghts. Men were known by the elementals - air, water, wood, earth and fire. Women claimed the corporeal - soul, blood, bone, flesh, mind.

An easy-reading book, perfect for the beach. GR recommended Sharon Shinn's books if you are a fan of Juliet Marilier, and although I can see why, it's not quite in the same league. T
Apr 06, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Zoe Ardelay is living in exile in a small town, mourning the death of her father when am envoy from the Capital comes to grandly inform her that she is to be the King's fifth wife and to whisk her away. At first Zoe is simply numb and still in the throes of her grief. But during the long journey to the capital Zoe learns a few hard truths. And one of them is that she doesn't want to be the fifth wife of the King.

Zoe herself is no simple commoner. Her father and late mother were both members of t
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I’ve been writing stories and poems since I was eight years old. My first poem was about Halloween: "What is tonight? What is tonight?/Try to guess and you’ll guess right." Perhaps this inauspicious beginning explains why it took me till I was in my thirties to sell a novel. It occurred to me early on that it might take some time and a lot of tries before I was able to publish any of my creative w ...more
More about Sharon Shinn

Other books in the series

Elemental Blessings (4 books)
  • Royal Airs (Elemental Blessings, #2)
  • Jeweled Fire (Elemental Blessings, #3)
  • Unquiet Land (Elemental Blessings, #4)
“There is nothing but heartache for a coru woman and a hunti man," she said, deliberately contrary. "He cannot control her and she cannot change him."

"He never fails her and she always moves him," Darien corrected. "She can trust his strength, and he can be lifted by her joy.”
“it was as if that long-healed wound was raw again; all the complex memories crowded once more to the forefront of her mind. An old despair should not feel so new, but a new despair could haul an old one out of hiding.” 1 likes
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