Jeweled Fire, by Sharon Shinn. Fantasy. Hardback, 403 pages. Book three in the Elemental Blessings series. Keeping it.
This book follows Corene and her bodyguard Foley across the sea to the country of Malinqua and the home of Emperess Filomara. The Emperess has three nephews and a newly-discovered grandson from whom to choose an heir, and she has collected neighboring princesses as possible wives for them, as well. But the court intrigue is strong both regarding the throne and regarding the country. Poison, food-poisoning, and strangulation are the weapons in the game.
I liked the comradeship that develops among the princesses. And I also appreciate that the treachery was not from the women. There were two obvious points in the plot where Shinn tried to get me to believe that I knew who was the bad guy/gal, and I almost fell for one of them. Unfortunately, there were also some issues with places in the plot where the unraveling was really rushed, but Shinn lingered appropriately on the decisions which supported the denouement. I'm also not so impressed that Shinn had to reach back to Royal Airs and give Mally a backstory. (I could have lived without it and not noticed the lack.) On the other hand, I was pleased that Nelson Ardelay's powers as Prime got a workout, though of course that just makes me wonder what the hunti prime would do.
I picked it up because I love Troubled Waters more and more as time goes on. I recommend it to people who understand the word games that women play are not always against each other.