The Emperor's Edge series by Lindsay Buroker
This is a seven book series with several short stories and novellas that take place between books.
The Emperor's Edge
Blood and Betrayal
Forged in Blood I
Forged in Blood II
The adventure starts here...
Imperial law enforcer Amaranthe Lokdon is good at her job: she can deter thieves and pacify thugs, if not with a blade, then by toppling an eight-foot pile of coffee canisters onto their heads. But when ravaged bodies show up on the waterfront, an arson covers up human sacrifices, and a powerful business coalition plots to kill the emperor, she feels a tad overwhelmed.
Worse, Sicarius, the empire's most notorious assassin, is in town. He's tied in with the chaos somehow, but Amaranthe would be a fool to cross his path. Unfortunately, her superiors order her to hunt him down. Either they have an unprecedented belief in her skills... or someone wants her dead.
I love this series.
Honestly, simple love it. I think somewhere (here, maybe) I reviewed the first book in this series, but proceeded to read the other six too quickly to keep up with reviewing them. The whole series takes place in less than a year and is one fast-paced adventure after another. From underwater lairs to daring train hijackings, this is a fun, adventure series.
While I do love the characters, one of the best things about this series to me is the setting. You'll see a note on the first book 'A High Fantasy Novel in an Era of Steam'. Well, I thought that would mean fantasy steampunk. It doesn't. What it means instead is that this is not your typical medieval fantasy setting. This is a world that is growing. It has changed in the past and it is changing now. Women are running businesses. Our heroine is even an Enforcer (a type of cop) - something that would have been unheard of fifty years ago in this world. There are steam powered 'lorries'.
The friendships grow between the characters, as well as a couple of cases of romance - but none of it takes over for the 'save the world' (or, in this case, the country) story that is so common in fantasy. I love how there is an overarching plotline, but each book has it's own villain and climax.
Honestly, this is one of the fantasy series that I would recommend to anyone that wants a fun story with colorful characters.
If you're interested in Lindsay Buroker, you can find her website here.