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Royal Airs: An Elemental Blessings Novel    by Sharon Shinn order for
Royal Airs
by Sharon Shinn
Order:  USA  Can
Ace, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Royal Airs follows Troubled Waters as the second in Sharon Shinn's delectable Elemental Blessings series, and I recommend reading the latter first as it helps to understand the characters and context. The series is set in a world in which everyone is aware of their elemental affiliation - sweela (flame), hunti (wood/bone), torz (earth), elay (soul/air), or coru (water/blood) - that strongly influences personality.

In Troubled Waters, after her father's death, Zoe Ardelay was taken by royal advisor Darien Serlast to the capital of Chialto to wed King Vernon (who already had three queens). She discovered a remarkable ability to control water and that she was her grandmother's heir, the Lalindar prime, with significant power in the country. Her talent exposed her to dangerous secrets, in particular that only the youngest of the four princesses was the king's child.

As Royal Airs opens in Chialto's slums, the king is dead and Zoe is married to Darien, who is now regent for the heiress, small princess Odelia. We meet a new character, Rafe Adova, a gambler who makes his living at cards. When he observes a young woman in trouble, he jumps in to help. She turns out to be one of the princesses, Corene, who has come in search of her stepsister Josetta, who runs a shelter in the slums. When Rafe is later attacked by assassins, it's princess Josetta who comes to his aid.

Romance grows between Rafe and Josetta, despite the wide gulf between their stations in life. And soon they learn that it might not be so wide after all. As this develops, Rafe becomes interested in Kayle Dochenza's aeronautics research and trains to be a pilot. And his brother Steff shows up in the city. All of this forms a pattern, 'showing him the shapes and colors of a new life'. A promising future awaits him, unless another assassination attempt succeeds first.

I enjoy anything that Sharon Shinn writes. A master of fantasy, she builds credible worlds that are very different from anything we know, and peoples them with intriguing characters (good and bad) with real problems. And she enriches their lives with romance. Don't miss Royal Airs.

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