Evie Manieri's Blood's Pride (new out as of 2/19) rose to the top of the TBR as a result. Blood's Pride is an epic fantasy and first in the new Shattered Kingdoms series. It's also Manieri's debut novel.
Harotha and her brother Faroth were just children when the Norlanders attacked Shadar. They wanted to precious ore of the region and enslaved the Shadari as servants and miners. Now the Shadari has banded together to hire the Mongrel, a legendary mercenary who just might be able to help them overcome the Norlanders. But she has an agenda of her own.
Blood's Pride is the first in a trilogy and that definitely became clear by the time I finished reading - there's no true cliffhanger ending but there are lots of questions remaining by the end of the book.
There's a link to a great Q&A with the author at the bottom here. I came across this as I was about halfway through the book and found it interesting that Manieri mentions the fact that the story begins in the middle. There's a prologue about the Norlanders' attack of the Shadar and then the reader is pretty much dropped into the story, swept along and left to glean details about the world and the characters along the way. While it's a better option than the dreaded info dump, it did leave me more than a bit confused throughout the beginning of the book.
The story unfolds around six main characters: Eofar, the governor's son; Harotha, a Shadari whose brother is leading the revolution; Isa, Eofar's youngest sister; Rho, a Norlander soldier whose relationship with his leaders is complicated; Daryan, the Shadari "king"; and Jachad, the King of the Nomas. And of course they've all got secrets that are revealed over the course of the story.
Fortunately, Manieri's tale does move along quickly. In fact, I was surprised at just how fast the pacing was. Sure, we could have spent a little more time with some of the characters, but overall I felt like the story paid off in a pretty great way by the end. Very much worth a little head scratching in the beginning as I tried to wrap my head around what was going on.
The worldbuilding is interesting. We learn that the Norlanders - the Shadari call them Dead Ones - are pale skinned and sensitive to sunlight. Their skin is cold and they "speak" to one another through their minds, which leaves their hearing very sensitive as well. On the other hand, the Shadari have a darker complexion and their touch burns the Norlanders. Their religion doesn't allow for writing or reading (and we do learn why). And then there are the Nomas, a desert tribe whose men and women live separate throughout much of the year. Many of the details about these people and the characters are revealed throughout the story, so some of the complexities aren't clear from the outset of the book. As with many series, it will be interesting to see how the story unfolds and what we continue to learn in the upcoming installments.
Here's the link to the Q&A with Manieri over at Tor (mentioned above). According to the author, Fortune's Blight (book 2) is due out later this year.