So while reading Middlemarch I got sidetracked by Sharon Shinn’s latest instalment (#4) in her Elemental blessings series. It was published in late 2016: I’d put a reminder to buy it on my Goodreads account and then forgot to on Goodreads altogether (duh!)… Anyway, Unquiet Land follows Troubled Waters, Royal Airs and Jeweled Fire. It takes up the story just at the end of Jeweled Fire and follows Leah Frothen, as she returns to Welce after 5 years spent in Malinqua as a spy for Darien Serlast.
She intends to reclaim Mally, her daughter who was Princess Odelia’s decoy and whom she left, unable to face life as a mother. Except the regent has a new mission for her, while foreign ambassadors are visiting the small kingdom and before she knows it Leah is back at the heart of intrigue and danger. Through it, she meets an old flame, her daughter’s father, and tries to come to term with his abandonment and finds a supportive friend in a man whom she met and worked with in Malinqua.
What I enjoy the most about Shinn’s work is that she writes characters’ stories. And it is no more obvious than in her Elemental Blessings series. Sure there’s intrigue and mystery; even life and death situations, but really it’s about Leah’s journey to becoming a mother to the daughter she left years before. She also learns where she belongs. Her journey is mostly a quiet one even though the circumstances are rife with potential conflict.
Shinn engages with her vivid characters; their quirks and traits make them real. The world she created is rich and never ceases to amaze.
I would say the one critique I have about the book is that the entire ‘suspenseful’ action is packed within a couple of chapters and it’s almost too much too fast. Then again, maybe this is how it happens in real life too. You think you’ve got time and then all of a sudden, things escalate a lot faster than you expected. And then blow up or blow out… In this case, it’s a bit of both I guess. Still it was weird.
Still, it’s a great book and Shinn’s style is always agreeable. It flows in a way that keeps you hooked. I literally abandoned Middlemarch until I was done with this one; it wasn’t long. I couldn’t put it down and in a day I was finished. I preferred this one to Jeweled Fire, which felt awkward: maybe because it didn’t happen in Welce, which is a world I got familiar weird. Malinqua felt alien and foreign. I should probably re-read it.
But I would advise you to pick Unquiet Land up if you have a chance.
Have you read it already?
Did you like it?