I used to love to wander through a bookstore and feed my reading need (this on top of checking many stacks of books out of the library). But at some point I stopped buying all those print copies, partially for space reasons, partially because of the changing bookstore landscape and partially because I was reading more and more digitally. So what's my version of strolling through the bookstore aisles? Late in the evening I look for ebook deals online to see if there's anything that catches my fancy (this on top of the library books I check out electronically and read on Libby!). That's how I re-discovered how much I enjoy Sharon Shinn's fantasy novels.
The first in her Elemental Blessings series is Troubled Waters in which Zoe Ardelay's world has just been upended by the death of her beloved father. Before she has a moment to think about what to make of her life now, Darien Serlast arrives in her village. He informs her that she's been chosen to be wife number five to the King. Because Zoe is still in shock and without an idea of what to do next, she agrees to accompany Darien to the capitol. Initially, still sunk in her grief, she gives little thought to why she was chosen. But as their journey continues, Zoe begins to ask herself the question. Why her? And does she even want this? By the time they reach journey's end, Zoe has made her decision - one that will have an impact not only on her life, but those of her entire nation. Shinn's worldbuilding and mythology is fully formed from beginning to end. From the introduction of her protagonist to the last page each detail of plot and world seems to have been carefully considered before Shinn set pen to paper (or hands to keyboard). Magic, spirituality and technology serve as a backdrop for court intrigue, personal conflict and a budding romance - and it all works. No question it was worth the price (and more, honestly).
I got this one as an ebook deal but the good news is you can get it for free in print or as an ebook on Libby.