The Sun Sword and House War series- an epic saga
Jewel Markess, Jay, is an orphan living on the streets of Averalaan when she steals from Ararath. Rath has spent his life avoiding personal relationships so he's not sure why he follows her beyond a vague sense that something is different about Jay. When she falls ill he keeps her at his apartment telling himself it's only until she recovers. It's hard to categorize Rath since he's a bit of a confidence man, thief, spy, and scholar. But when he needs money he delves into the undercity, the silent ancient city below Averalaan, that only Rath knows about. Then one night Jay warns him, as he goes to sell some pieces from the undercity, that he's meeting a man who will have him followed. Now Rath has two puzzles. Who is this man that wants to kill him and how did Jay know?
Rath believes that Jewel is talent born and a Seer. There hasn't been mention of a Seer for hundreds of years and this one is an unprotected child. Her talent leads her to save the lives of several other children and soon Rath's place is crowded. He tries to ignore them while investigating this Patris A'Matie that has him followed again, this time by invisible goons that try to kill him. Jay can See them and keeps him alive until an ally of Rath's reaches them and kills them. Rath's knives did nothing, but Andrei was carrying daggers blessed with summer magic, and only demons are killed by summer magic.
The Hidden City is the chronological beginning of the House War and Sun Sword Series. The Sun Sword was actually published first but I recommend going chronologically because the characters of Averalaan get very little background explanation in the Sun Sword books. The House War is focused on Jewel and those she knows as they fight the demons and she tries to protect the family she has built for herself. The first three of the House War take place in Averalaan, the capital of the northern empire which is ruled by the godborn sons of Wisdom and Justice. They have many godborn with their golden eyes as well as talent born humans like the bards, mages, and Makers who craft amazing items. Almost all political and economic power is held by the Ten Houses who aren't houses by blood but by taking in those they feel can add something. People like Jewel.
Going by chronology, after the third book of the House War, House Name, perspective shifts to the situation in the southern empire known as the Dominion. In The Broken Crown Diora is a beautiful young woman with a deadly secret, she is bard born and in the Dominion a woman able to command men with voice is killed. For that reason her father denies all suitors hoping to protect her but rumors of her great beauty bring her to the attention of the Kai Leone (the top of the feudal pyramid) and Diora is married to his heir. Like Jewel, Diora wants to build a family with the other wives and concubines in the harem and protect them from a violent and capricious husband. But the so-called wise, the Widan, which includes Diora's father, have been making plans to overthrow the Kai...with a little demonic help. The demon Kin and their Kialli Lords want to destroy House Leone because only of that blood can wield the Sun Sword against them and Allasakar, god, Lord of the Hells, plans to return to the mortal world with his armies.
Kiriel is the only god born child of Allasakar. Raised by the Kialli Lord Isladar she was meant to be her father's tool in the mortal realm. She's a killer, full of rage and confusion, but finds acceptance in the Black Ospreys. The Ospreys are a legendary unit in the army of House Kalakar of the north known for their brutality and effectiveness on the battlefield. In peace they are a bit of a liability since they contain everyone that couldn't be contained by the regular army. Kiriel knows war is coming, war against the Dominion, because the demons want humans preoccupied, and because they just like to see people suffer. Kiriel then faces a choice, her new human friends, or her divine father?
Following the end of The Sun Sword, book and series, the House War series starts back up immediately with Jewel's return to Averalaan in Skirmish. The house war that gives the series its name is starting in earnest.
This is obviously a long and complex story line and this review barely scratches the surface. This is Epic Fantasy. I started when The Broken Crown was first published. They are full of detailed characters, battle, political intrigue. A lot of characters, many plot arcs. Hopefully you get the idea. The most obvious comparison is Game of Thrones although the authors have different voices. I quit reading Game of Thrones but I'm still going on House War, but I'm weird and didn't feel enough "fantasy" in GoT.
The Sacred Hunt: Hunter's Oath and Hunter's Death, the relevant part of the Sun Sword arc is in House Name but if you want full character and cultural background on the hunters this is where it is. These were actually published before the Sun Sword and the first widely read books by Michelle Sagara West.
The Sun Sword: The Broken Crown, The Uncrowned King, The Shining Court, Sea of Sorrows, Riven Shield, and The Sun Sword. The story arc mostly from the Dominion perspective.
The House War: The Hidden City, City of Night, House Name, Skirmish, Battle, and Oracle. With more to come. This is Jewel's story and the events in the northern empire.
These books are written as Michelle West which is the married name of Michelle Sagara who writes the Chronicles of Elantra. This series is quite different from that one so she wrote that one under maiden name. The Elantra books are much faster paced and more sarcastic in tone. The Michelle West books are more deliberate, methodical, and detailed. She is also found under Michelle Sagara West. She has a great website at http://michellesagara.com, it's very helpful because she has a timeline for the Sun Sword world.
Eva Wilhelm is the narrator of the House War series which all have five stars on Audible.
I also love the paperback cover art.