Bujold, Lois McMaster -- Beguilement (The Sharing Knife, 1)

I still think Bujold was watching "Firefly" the whole time she was writing the dialogue for this. Explicitly New-World-settlers fantasy, with small towns of farmers and nomadic tribes. Only the nomads are a distributed military culture dedicated to hunting down "malices" (demons). Our heroine falls in with one of them, and then -- the smoochies. There is a certain amount of "nomads good; farmers idiots", but shades of grey do creep in eventually. This is half a novel. More specifically, it's half a Bujold novel, so it has all the characters and the initial problem, but our heroes have not yet been dropped into the cacky. This gives it a bit of a Mercedes Lackey feel, but I have faith that the cacky is looming ahead.

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