The gathering of the den.
The Hidden City is the first novel in The House War, a saga Michelle West’s avid fans have been waiting to read for over a decade. The House War is the story of the battle to control the most power of the ruling Houses in the Essalieyan Empire–House Terafin.
But it is also the tale of a remarkable young woman, Jewel Markess (though she prefers to be called Jay by her friends). The Hidden City introduces Jewel as an orphan living in the slums of the capital city, Averalaan. She is unexpectedly rescued from this existence by Rath, who abandoned his own family when his sister joined House Terafin. Now his sister is The Terafin, head of House Terafin, while Rath has become a recluse, prowling the ruins of the undercity, finding relics of an earlier age and selling them to the highest bidder.
When Jay steals Rath’s money, he seeks her out to reclaim what is his. Discovering her under a bridge and deathly ill, he takes her in and nurses her back to health. But once she has recovered, Jay insists she must repay her debt, and Rath finds that he cannot be rid of her. Even worse lies ahead. Driven by visions she can’t control, Jay begins to rescue other children and bring them into Rath’s home. As Jay forms the group that will become her den, Rath walks a far more dangerous path. For the demons that once nearly destroyed the Essalieyan Empire are stirring again, reaching out to strike down any who can give warning against them. And soon Rath, who treads ancient ways hidden beneath the slums of Averalaan, and Jay, who is cursed with the untrained talents of a seer, will find themselves targeted by these deadly beings….
Michelle’s Note: Although this book is set in the same universe as the previous two DAW series, it can actually be read without reading any of the prior eight books, as it introduces both the city, the Empire, and the world through the eyes of an orphan and a man who has disowned his noble family. If you are new to the West universe, this is the book I would recommend as the first one you try.