1978’s Godsfire was Cynthia Felice’s debut science fiction novel.
Heao, a felinoid sentient, lives in the tableland region of the shadowed highlands. Her country is sophisticated and technologically advanced, but it has not been able to resist a felinoid neighbor avid for conquest. The tableland has been overrun by a cunning military strategist from the shadowed lowlands. Now the tableland is just another province in the King-conqueror’s empire; the tableland’s ruler, Prince Chel, is a mere vassal.
Heao is one of the few surviving tableland scholars; she’s a mapmaker. This will make her of use to the King-conqueror, although not immediately.