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Jeweled Fire is the third book of the Elemental Blessings series by Sharon Shinn. So far the books have focused on several women who were all heirs to the crown of Welce. This book focuses on Corene. Corene is the most ambitious, and has found out that she won't take the crown. She decides to drastically change her life by traveling to a neighboring kingdom and vying to marry one of the heirs. There, she makes friends but runs into several mysteries--like why have some many of the royal family died in recent years? Shinn's books are always interesting and fun to read.

I then decided to try the first installment of serial novel, Tremontaine, that is being published in 13 installments over several months. It's set in the titular dukedom, home to Ellen Kushner's novels--Swordspoint, The Privilege of the Sword, and one co-written with Delia Sherman, The Fall of the Kings. It's set before Swordspoint and so far we've met the current Duke and Duchess of Tremontaine; Micah, a farmer's daughter which a mathematical mind; Ixkaab, a young woman of a Mayan-analog trading clan who's been rusticated from her homeland; and Rafe, a young scholar who espouses a much-derided theory that the earth circles the sun. That last thread caused me much amusement in one of the episodes (I've read 5, and 6 is queued up next) when the latter three were talking. Kaab mistakenly let slip that her people know that the theory is true. When she realized her mistake, as Rafe was ecstatic. She tried hurriedly to obfuscate the matter by throwing a false tidbit out, 'Oh, you think the earth is a sphere. Ha-ha, of course not, it's an ellipsoid!" Oh, that was fun. (yeah, I'm a geodesy/cartography/GIS/map projections geek, why do you ask?)

After episode 5, I decided to try Melissa McShane's first book in her (oddly enough) The Crown of Tremontane series, Servant to the Crown. I'd read her The Smoke-Scented Girl earlier this year and enjoyed it. In this book, Alison Quinn, Duchess of Waxwold and editor of Quinn Press, is summoned to the capital city to become a lady-in-waiting to the Dowager Consort. She's furious as she likes her job and life perfectly well, thank you! Anyway, she does take up her duties and gets embroiled with the heir but also a political struggle between the crown and the Scholia, the pre-eminent university. Quite enjoyable. It's mostly a romance, and just what I felt like reading.

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