In the kingdom of Welce, they believe that all people are affiliated with one of the five elemental groups Coru (water/blood), Elay (air/soul), Sweela (fire/mind), Torz (earth/flesh) or Hunti (wood/bone). These affiliations come with personality inclinations embodied in the associated blessings. Welce is headed by a king, but his rule is supported by the approval of the 5 Elemental Primes, one for each affiliation.
Troubled Waters, the excellent first book in the Elemental Blessings series by Sharon Shinn, follows Zoe Ardelay on her journey from unknown refugee to Coru Prime. Along the way is much enthralling court intrigue and a slow burn romance that is long on the emotional and short on physical engagement (as I prefer my books to be).
Zoe plays a supporting role in the second book in the series, Royal Airs, which follows Josetta, a princess of one of the Five Families. Josetta is and trying to figure out her place in the world after the exciting finish to Troubled Waters causes a significant change in her circumstances. Her Elay soul is drawn to building a shelter to aid the many poor in the slums of the capital city. Shinn builds another, satisfying, slowly developing romance as Josetta tries to figure out why Rafe Adova, a career gambler in the slums, is seemingly devoid of elemental blessings.
The third book, Jeweled Fire, centers on Corene, another of the princesses. This strong-willed and fiery Sweela young woman along with her loyal bodyguard, Foley, stow away on a ship bound for a neighboring kingdom Malinqua. Once there, Corene is drawn into the intrigue surrounding the competition to marry one of the Queen’s nephews and so win a kingdom of her own. She is assisted by Leah Frothen, spy for the Regent of Welce. My critique of Jeweled Fire is embedded in a Readathon Update
The most recent book in the series, Unquiet Land, continues the story of Leah Frothen, who identifies as Torz. Unquiet Land very much fit my mood and was quickly and enjoyably devoured. While better than Jeweled Fire, Unquiet Land in no way lived up to the first book in the series. The romance aspect was more explicit, with a bit too much agonizing about whether she deserved to trust/love her man. The evil deeds committed by the villains are a bit more explicit than I prefer. In addition, I felt like Ms. Shinn recycled too many plot elements from previous books
How many times is the love interest going to turn out to be a long-lost prince or other person of courtly importance?
Goodreads doesn’t (yet) list a #5 in the series, and the only characters that comes to mind as having a Hunti affiliation are the Regent, Darien Serlast and his Aunt Mirti the Hunti Prime. But I’m hoping that Ms. Shinn will find a Hunti young woman to feature so this series can continue for at least one more book and we can have a complete set of elements.
As a sidenote, Sharon Shinn has made a set of blessing coins and once a week she posts the blessings she pulls to her Facebook page.