The Guild of the Cowry Catchers by Abigail Hilton
This is a good story that is hard to classify. Calling it a fantasy epic is fair enough, except that I don't generally like fantasy epics. I feel it could have been a mythic-leaning science fiction novel (in 5 volumes) if the author were interested in making it fit there. Anyway, there are several wonderful, memorable characters (more would have been too many). The plot has plenty of unexpected twists, yet feels mostly driven by the characters. The biology references both mythology and details from earthly biology. The politics features many layers of deception and misunderstanding. There is not a great deal of sex in the story, but what there is has not been toned down or modified to cater to the wishes of the easily offended.
(reviewed 33 days after purchase)