The White Mists of Power - Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Given that every fantasy writer out there seems to be producing trilogies (at least), it's good to get my hands on a standalone novel every so often!

In The White Mists of Power, Rusch initially starts with two storylines, one involving a crazy duke who likes to hunt people with hounds (see cover) and one involving a young prince, the son of a figurehead king, who wants to see the real world for himself. In the former, the duke's latest prey is a bard who manages to outwit the dogs, with a little help, while the prince gets lost in the city and things get decidedly unpleasant for him.

All of this is underpinned by a world where the rulers live in uneasy relationship with those who control its natural forces, with the eponymous white mists being a sign of whether someone will become a leader. Where the novel falls down is when the two storylines collide and you discover that Rusch has somewhat pulled the wool over her reader's eyes - one of her main characters is not who he seems to be, but there's also things going on in the space between the storylines that we don't know about until the exposition dump towards the end.

I finished it, but I can't say it's a book I would read again, because that whole set-up and authorial sleight of hand vexed me too much.