Tide Child is a dead ship. Made from the bones of a sea dragon it's bones can no longer absorb the souls of the sacrificed so it was painted black and given a crew of the condemned. The Black Ships are still part of the Hundred Isle's navy but despised by everyone including their crews. The deckchilder of Tide Child prefer to spend their time drunk until the most famous and infamous Shipwife, or captain, of the fleet shows up and duels Joron for his Shipwife's hat. To his astonishment Meas doesn't kill him but instead makes him her second in command. So starts the strange tale of an unjustly condemned murderer and a politically condemned tactician in a world that reveres women that can bear children free of mutation but also sacrifices the first of those children to keep their ships "alive".
Anne Bishop returns to the world of the Others, an alternate Earth where the Terra Indigene were the apex predators long before Humans came along, with Lake Silence and Wild Country. Lake Silence is unrelated to the original series with all new characters in a small Other controlled town about a middle aged woman who finds herself caught between her scuzzy ex-husband and the surprisingly friendly Others. Surprising because they usually prefer to eat humans rather than help them. The Wild Country returns to the towns of Bennet and Prairie Gold and overlaps with the end of the original series. It turns into an old west style showdown with vampires and wolf shifters squaring off against human outlaws determined to take over Bennet.
The last book ended with a large amount of chaos and now Ayrion finds himself trying to care for those that have been banished by the street rat tribes. These kids have no place else to go and no one to look out for them, so naturally Ayrion attempts to fill the void. But first things first, Ayrion must deal with those who betrayed him and that means the head of the Hurricane tribe needs to go. As a trained assassin, Ayrion has the skills to make someone disappear, even someone as well guarded as a tribe leader. Of course that will only make life harder for everyone as the balance of power amongst the five tribes relies on the fact that an odd number of votes in Guild meetings never results in a tie, but a missing leader means no vote for that tribe and gridlock. When matters can't be decided in the Guild meetings then tribes are essentially free to do as they will and Ayrion's outcasts are going to suffer even more. So once again the responsibility falls on Ayrion to find a solution.
After quite the series of adventures in the first book Ayrion finally arrives in Aramoor and it isn't long before he questions the wisdom of coming. He arrives quite confident about his prospects here, even though he has never been in such a large city with so many people, and he is looking forward to seeing all the wonders it has to offer. The advantages of his training as an Opakan warrior have allowed him to survive some pretty tight spots already but even his skills are no match for an overwhelming number of enemies. Not long after arriving in the city he receives a lesson in the strength of numbers after which he finds himself left for dead and robbed of all his possessions. Not only did he lose all of his money and clothes to a gang of street kids but he also lost his father's warrior ring which is something that can never be replaced. Welcome to Aramoor!
The Goblin Emperor is a wonderful book but I've liked nothing else Addison (Sarah Monette) has written so didn't know what to expect from the second book set in that world of Elves and Goblins. There are many references to Emperor, including Thara Celehar's tragic and scandalous past, without any explanations offered in Witness for the Dead so Emperor must be read first. As the title suggests Witness is about Celehar's new career as a Witness vel ama, an impartial advocate, speaking for those who have died. Celehar is a prelate of Ulis, god of the Dead and Dreams, who was blessed with the ability to communicate with souls for a short time after death. Most often it involves answering questions for the family but occasionally he is asked to represent murder victims and bring their killers to justice.
The Opakan are a race of contract killers with white eyes that live underground in the ruins of a forgotten city. They train from birth to be unrivaled warriors and it is whispered that if you ever do see the white eyes of an Opakan then that is likely the last thing you will ever see. Ayrion is a young Opakan who was born with a gift for magic as well as being a repeater, which means that he need only be taught something once for him to be able to flawlessly repeat the action. This makes him an incredible fighter and his skills should allow him to become the youngest Opakan ever to pass the warrior test, which is his goal. However, his astonishing skills also make him a target for the other young Opakans who resent his abilities and there are those with power who want to see him fail. This is a coming of age story that could easily been considered a YA book but it never insults your intelligence and it is easy to get wrapped up in discovering Ayrion's world from his limited perspective.
Nine of the Greek gods turned their power against humanity when we started to worship other gods so Zeus punished them by restricting their power and binding them to the Agon. Every seven years the Agon begins and those gods become mortal and walk the Earth for seven days so that the descendants of the greatest Greek heroes can hunt them. Any human who delivers a killing blow inherits the slain god's power and thus becomes bound to the Agon themselves. Lore is the last mortal descendant of Perseus and as a child she was determined to win glory in the Agon until her family was brutally murdered by the new Ares. She might dream of revenge but killing him means becoming hunted herself so instead she hopes to escape the Agon. Alas, the Agon isn't done with her yet. The new Ares is still hunting for her, an old friend is in desperate danger, and the most cunning of the old gods, Athena, offers Lore a deal she can't resist.
North of the river the Moon watches over the Winterlands and her people, the Ugaro. Its a harsh land but the nomadic tribes of the Ugaro are a tough people of strength and endurance. To the south live the tall slender Lau in the Summerlands where the Sun is stronger, the Moon weak, and the Stars are only a faint glimmer in the night. After four years of war things are not going well for the Ugaro. Each of their warriors is a match for three Lau but the Lau fight in shielded formations and have far greater numbers. After a devastating battle his tribe leaves Ryo inGara behind as a tuyo, a kind of sacrifice offered to the enemy in the hopes of appeasing their desire for further bloodshed. If a tuyo is accepted the enemy may kill them in any manner they wish and won't pursue the defeated warriors. In return the defeated tribe and their allies will no longer make war with them. Ryo expects to die horribly with no guarantee that the Lau will actually honor the custom of his people. Lord Aras, the Lau commander, sees in Ryo an opportunity to learn more about his people and why they started the war so he spares his life. Unfortunately, what he learns confirms his fears that a powerful sorcerer has been manipulating both sides and probably plans to seize power over both lands.
The Families in their underground fortresses have little interest in the world above, although they did offer aid to the first Larossan refugees who came to their lands due to their ancient mandate to preserve humanity. When the Anvarrid invaders eventually conquered Larossa they chose to negotiate with them rather than fight and risk the last six fortresses built by the Founders. In exchange for being mostly independent they vowed to give up their secret languages and technologies and spend their first three years as adults guarding the Anvarrid nobility. They make exceptional guards due to the high number of psychics, called sensitives, among them and the mental discipline required by anyone living with empaths. An uneasy peace has now existed between these three cultures for almost two centuries.
Everyone agrees that Lucinda should have been born a witch, with her personality and obsession with the Fire Guild. Or was she born a witch? Unaware that she's putting herself on the frontline of the coming war with the neighboring Empire she petitions the Fire Warlock for assistance in finding a husband. Living in his fortress with access to his library and studying with the handsome flame mage Sven is a dream come true except Lucinda keeps having nightmares. The King is convinced that the Fire Warlock, Quicksilver, is a power hungry wizard holding back the nobility out of spite and Lucinda has learned that the situation is hopelessly complicated. The Office of the Western Gate, that grants the Fire Warlock the ability to draw on the power of the volcano Storm King, is a magical construct known as a Lock. The Fire Warlock is charged with protecting the border and if the Warlock fails to act the Lock will simply incinerate him and pass the mandate to his successor. Above all, the Lock will maintain the sovereignty of Frankland, even if the inability to surrender in a war means their utter destruction. If only there was another warlock with the gift to craft Locks who could fix things because the seers agree that Quicksilver won't be the Warlock much longer.