Rai-kirah Trilogy by Carol Berg
This is a story about two men who don't like each other very much. And why should they? Alexander is a royal prince - intelligent, confident, capable, proud. The knows his worth; he knows it is high; and he is not mistaken. He is, you get the sense sometime when you rush past the first half of "Transformation" in one breath, much like Seyonne once was ... before he was captured, beaten; before his magic was burned out of him; before the husk of a man that remained was enslaved. The man he was before is no more. For sixteen years, Seyonne was property - debased, worthless. Alexander's people have taught the Ezzarian his place in the world. What's more, they have taught Seyonne to believe that the role fits.
The story begins with both men being entirely hopeless - Seyonne, because he has lost himself; Alexander, because he is so full of his own virtue, that he never bothered to look for himself. Then the prince purchases the slave and slowly, slowly they learn to look at each other, they learn to see each other - and to see themselves reflected in each other's eyes. Before long, they find they have somehow become friends. Even crazier - they respect each other.
Then, of course, the author offer a little kick to remind them that this is, after all, a fantasy series. There is, of course, a force threatening the world - a force that Seyonne was once equipped to fight. Now, to his dismay, he finds that Alexander may be the one person in the world who can turn the tide. What a horrifying thought!
The entire series is written magnificently. It is the third on my list, just after Tolkien and Robin Hobb. The characters are real, the plot - engaging, twisty. It keeps you on the edge of your seat and, while you're there, keeps you guessing. The world is believable and natural to the characters. The magic is subtle and feels right (as opposed to the common: "And the fireball blasted out of his hand and shattered the world! Ooops..."). I tell you this - I did not sleep overmuch when Carol Berg's books were in my hands. They're wonderful. You won't be disappointed!