When Demons Walk - Sianim Series #2
Before Briggs became known for the Mercy Thompson series of urban fantasy she was one of the first to adopt the lighter style that replaced the heavy epic fantasy of the 90's. When Demons Walk is one of four books she wrote that only qualify as a series because they all take place in the same world. Shamera, "Sham", is a wizard, thief, and occasional rebel in Southwood which was conquered ten years ago by the Cymbellian empire. She can't forgive the conquerors for killing her parents and blinding her Master, the former Royal Magician. Kerim, the Reeve (governor) of Southwood, was once a great warrior and favored by the god Altis but his body is weakening for no obvious reason and he spends most of his days in a wheeled chair. The Cymbellian's regard magic as local superstition but when Kerim's half-brother dies under mysterious circumstances he needs the help of Southwood's remaining wizard.
Sham isn't consumed by hate but she's definitely bitter about the conquest and gets back at them in small ways. She wouldn't bother to help most of them but the Reeve is known to treat both populations fairly and she has little purpose in life following the violent death of her Master. The opportunity to embarrass the court by posing as Kerim's outrageous mistress seems more fun than work until she begins to suspect that the same demon that killed her Master is now attacking Kerim. Someone at court is more than they appear, but finding a demon among the greedy back-stabbing nobles won't be easy and the demon will soon be hungry again.
Although written over twenty years ago the writing style feels very contemporary. The plot isn't overly complex but flows well and has a few surprises. The world building is rather good and both of the main characters are likable with plenty of background considering the book's modest length. Like most of Briggs' early books this one is underrated compared to her better known urban fantasy, but the plot is completely original which is never overrated. The Sianim books take place in the same world but aren't interconnected so When Demons Walk can be read alone.
Readers on Audible gave it 4.6 out of 5 stars. Jennifer James Bradshaw also narrated the Raven's Shadow books by Briggs.