One of my favourites: Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling

I just spent the better part of a week with the family camping in the Canadian Shield. No cell signal, no car, just a canoe and what we could carry on our backs. I still manged 2-3,000 words a day as well as doing some world building for my next novel. It made me reflect on what I like about the worlds in my favourite books. While I like original worlds, like Niven’s Ringworld and Sanderson’s Final Empire, one of my favourite worlds exists in Lynn Flewelling’s Nightrunner series. I love it because she is original within a standard fantasy setting. She doesn’t have bizarre races (her Aurenfaie are similar to elves) or strange climates. There is no technological wonder or dramatic magical influence. On the surface, it seems like medieval Europe. Where Flewelling shines is in gradually introducing a countrified adolescent to the various societal layers in a cosmopolitan city. The layout of the city, its culture and political structure, and the quaint little inn Alec and Seregil call home are all layered in a compelling way. Sometimes, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to make things pop. I have read the first two books of her series many times and highly recommend them.