Official book description (cause I haven’t finished the book yet):
Danger lurks in the western realms. The Destroyer’s imminent return has sent the realms into turmoil as desperate citizens seek refuge—but there’s no safety to be found when demons and wraiths crawl out from the shadows. Even Koth, a northern island kingdom left untouched by the Destroyer a generation past, is besieged by terrors spawned from corrupt magics.
When Lizzan leads the Kothan army against these terrors, only to see her soldiers massacred and to emerge as the only survivor, she is called a coward and a deserter. Shunned from her home, Lizzan now wanders in solitude as a mercenary for hire, until she encounters a group of warriors seeking new alliances with the northern kingdoms—a group that includes Aerax, the bastard prince of Koth, and the man who sent her into exile.
Though they were childhood friends, Aerax cannot allow himself to be close to the only woman who might thwart his treacherous plan to save their island realm. But when a goddess’s demand binds them together, Lizzan and Aerax must find a way to overcome their painful pasts. Or there will be no future for the western realms…
According to the reviewer over on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, this works fine as a standalone, because it was the first in the series she read. Be warned before you check any of the books out, however, that this is NOT for everyone. These books have a lot of violence and darkness and the order of the day is pretty much survival of the fittest and strongest. The world is still reeling from the terrible destruction wreaked by Anumith the Destroyer a few decades ago, and now there has been confirmation that Anumith is on the rise, returning to the Continent once more. The various peoples, countries, and tribes that live there need to form an alliance and fast, or they will all be swept away in the wake of the Destroyer’s second invasion.
The protagonists of this book are Lizzan and Aerax and their romance keeps seeming impossible. They’ve known each other since they were children, and come from vastly different positions. As a royal bastard, Aerax wasn’t officially acknowledged until a terrible epidemic came and killed most of the royal house. Lizzan’s father was a high ranking army commander and her mother is a magistrate, before he got recognised as an actual prince, she would be seriously throwing away her future to be with him. Then came the incident that led to Lizzan’s exile, where her father and much of the Kothan army led an attack to pacify nearby bandits but were surprised by a supernatural threat, leaving Lizzan as the only survivor.
Lizzan was deemed a coward and a traitor, and her name was struck from the official records. No one from Koth is allowed to speak her name or even recognise that she is still alive. She had to leave Koth in disgrace and exile and hates Aerax for not speaking up in her defence at the trial. Aerax, having at that point been trained and come to know many of the island’s official secrets, couldn’t defend her, as it could lead to her death. He’s adored Lizzan for as long as he can remember and will do anything to keep her safe, even if it means she despises him.
Full review (such as it is) here.