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I vaguely remember that there was an orphan and some kind of forgotten and, I think, forbidden magic. There were kingdoms and, in one of them, women were second class citizens but they formed a kind of a collective that helped one another. One of the characters got into the society somehow and then escaped to a city hidden in mountains, in which people collected the gemstones. Part of the story is about the map that leads to this city.

I think it was a series and it had multiple main characters but I am not sure of that. I read it in the late 2000s. Does this ring a bell?

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    Somehow Star Wars fits this bill. Perhaps the details are a bit vague?
    – Möoz
    Commented Jan 31 at 1:44
  • This is a few details away from being the stormlight archive too Commented Jan 31 at 10:16

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Maybe this is The Traitor Spy Trilogy by Trudi Canavan? Black Magic is the forgotten/forbidden magic, women in Sachaka are second class citizens, but there's a secret city in the mountains where they are in charge, and the gemstones were useful for defense, I think so they wouldn't have to rely on Black magic?

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