by Cinda Williams Chima
Han, former streetlord, spends much time with the clans of the mountains, and his friends Dancer and Bird. He and Dancer encounter wizard boys on the mountain, which is forbidden, and he takes a strange amulet from the leader, Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard.
Princess Raissa chafes under expectations. Do this, don't do this. Learn manners but not diplomacy. Marry for political reasons. She will one day be queen, but knows little of the true state of the queendom.
Moving effortlessly between both characters points of view, Cinda Williams Chima creates a complex world completely independent of The Warrior Heir series. The Seven Realms are governed by the Naeming, an ancient agreement that brought peace and a separation of power, particularly between the clans and the wizards. This place is rich with its own history and legends, full of well-realized secondary characters, and the writing generally self-assured and smooth. I stayed up late finishing this one, and can't wait for the next in the series.