I've heard of this series some time ago, but only got around to get the DVD box and watch it last month. It's based on a novel, but I don't know anything directly about it.
It's set in a fantasy version of medieval East Asia and takes place in the analog of Japan. The story follows a woman who wanders the world searching for work as a bodyguard to fullfil her vow to save eight people from death. She happens to resque the prince of the kingdom from drowning and shortly after is contacted by the queen, who fears that the king is trying to assassinate their son. The bodyguard thinks the queens plan is stupid but agrees anyway, but only to fullfil her personal quest and not for the substential reward she is offered. Of course, the kings advisor sends the best manhunters of the realm after her to get the prince. And there is also a curse involved, that could threaten the whole kingdom.
Despite the intense start, there is actually a relatively low amount of violence and it turns out that things are not really as grim and bleak as it first seems, which makes the show stand somewhat apart from the Sword & Sorcery genre. What fight scenes there are are really great (the show is by the same people who did the Ghost in the Shell series), and rivaling shamans and sages end up playing a very major part. There's no fireballs or demonic hordes, but magic and spirits play a big role. Another focus lies on the ambivalance of what makes a friend or foe, and there's certainly a great amount of intrigue and conspiracy going on.
Really liked it. I can very much recommend it.