The Sable City by M. Edward McNally
Tilda Lanai has trained for years to take her place among the Guilders of the Miilark Islands, but now the Trade House she is to serve is imperiled by the absence of a legitimate Deskata heir. Scenting blood in the water, rival Houses begin to circle. The desperate search for an exiled heir takes Tilda across a war-torn continent and to the gates of the Sable City, where centuries ago dark magic almost destroyed the world. Along with a sinister sorceress, a broken-hearted samurai, and a miscreant mercenary long on charm but lousy with a crossbow, Tilda must brave the demon-infested ruins. Only then can she find John Deskata, who may not want to be found at all.
(Only one thing worse than reading short blurbs for long books, writing short blurbs for long books. 😉 The above is very nuts and bolts: “Tilda must go here to do this,” but of course it is all a lot more complicated than that. I love the fantasy genre and respect its classic elements. That said, this series is to some extent about playing with what might be expected, and bringing some humor, mystery, and a bit of flirty banter to what can easily turn only too grim, when the stakes are so “fantastically” high. It isn’t “Dark” fantasy, but nor is it slapstick. It’s basically a character piece about Tilda Lanai, trying to hold down a job, help out her friends, and survive the day-to-day. With a couple dragons thrown in, of course. – Ed McNally)