I have fallen deeply in love with Lindsay Buroker's Emperor's Edge series. It's full of action and the characters are wonderful. Dark Currents is actually the second in the series, but where I personally feel it kicks off as the first (Emperor's Edge) serves mainly to set the stage in that it gathers together a team and gives them a purpose. Dark Currents is when they start to follow it.
Amaranthe Lokdon is the sole women in the team of outlaws the books follow, not that she always was an outlaw. But well, being an Enforcer, and a good one, is bound to get you negative attention in a world where women aren't seen as equal to men. Trailing along behind her is the assassin Sicarius, a retired history professor Books, a young ex-gang member Akstyr, Maldynado the warrior-cast escort, and the ex-slave pit fighter Basilard.
What they want to do is convince Emperor Sespian that they aren't as bad as he seems to think they are. That they're worthy of exoneration and really just have his best interests at heart. Dark Currents is the tale of the group's first attempt to do this.
It starts with finding dead bodies in the city's water pipes, as well as a foreign owned gambling house run with magic in a country where magic is illegal. But things quickly escalate, the water is making the city sick and in an effort to trace the water's source the group finds that it's effect on animals is worse - they become aggressive to the point where they don't go down with a pistol ball through the eye.
Amaranthe is happy about it all, it's a bit of trouble that if her group solves will surely get Sespian's attention, while her group grumbles along behind her.
It's the group dynamics that really make me love this series. Amaranthe has a personal goal to get Sicarius to smile, and all attempts are stone walled. I know Sicarius is just tight lipped, but I can't help but read it as silent snark. Books is the grandfatherly figure, despite being in his forty something, and it's hilarious reading his arguments with Maldynado with mute Basilard's support while Akstyr is your typically teenager who refuses to do the chores. Granted, he studies instead.
I listened to the audio-book of this and couldn't stop smiling on the bus. And then was deeply upset when my town had no power for days and due to a dead laptop and dead iPod I had to stop listening.
There's a lots of action and plot threads going through this story. I kept trying to figure out how it all linked together and couldn't until the characters figured it out themselves in an idea I hadn't thought of and was all the more brilliant for it.
I've never been angrier at my bank for it's issues with temporary expats until I wanted to buy the rest of this series. I'll have to buy it for myself as a birthday gift next Fall.