For everyone who loves the fantasy genre, Mercedes Lackey is a must-read. She creates vivid worlds with her writing, but mostly returns to two: Valdemar, a land of Heralds and their magical companions; and the world of the Obsidian, a pitched battle between light and darkness for the souls of humanity. I've read more of the Obsidian books than Valdemar, so I'll just talk about them.
The xenophobic city of Armethalieh is the domain of humans, and mages who wield the High Magick. Only men can use the Magick, as women are deemed too emotional by the [all-male] High Council. Outside of Armethalieh are the Home Farms of the Delfier Valley, a sprawling complex of land that feeds Armethalieh and is under the city's jurisdiction and protection. The Centaurs live outside the boundaries of the City lands alongside the Highlanders, a more friendly race of humans. Outside the city is the Wild Magic, a force whose power stems from the earth itself and, rather than costing energy, incurs debt to the caster. Magedebt ranges from visiting foreign locations to cleaning out forest springs or even, in the most dire of situations, offering up your own life. Humans and centaurs can be wildmages, although the centaurs' power works differently.
The Elven lands, presided over by the Nine Cities, make up a large part of the land outside the city. The elves are the chief enemy of the demons of Obsidian Mountain, and organized an alliance against the demons long ago. Although most of the races that originally joined were driven to extinction by the sadistic demons, the elves can still call upon their allies at need by way of magical war banners hanging in the king's hall.
The Demons of Obsidian Mountain are the most powerful and ancient race. They are practically invincible, vulnerable only to unicorns or a combination of the High Magick and Wild Magic. They wield greatly powerful dark magic, and are masters of torture, intrigue, and betrayal.
...well, that's all I'm writing for now.
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