I had heard the name Elizabeth Moon in author recommendations, so when I saw one of her novels available for free at BAEN, I gave it a shot. It's the first volume in a fantasy series.
The prologue tells us of a written account of Paksenarrion's (here not specified) deeds being delivered to her humble family. It amazes them. Since chapter one jumps back to when she ran away from home, that prologue smells to me like a cheap ploy to build interest.
In the following, we get rather a lot of detail about basic training in a mercenary army. While we hear how to handle a spear, what the food's like, and what the unit marches past on the way to their first campaign, we don't see much character interaction beyond orders and some bullying from a fellow recruit. Paks making friends is covered with "Despite having little time to talk, she knew that Saben, Arñe, Vik, Jorti, and Coben were going to be her friends". The occasional conversation seems to be designed primarily to lay out worldbuilding details (gods, elves and dwarves, geography).
The only point which is not that boring is a sort of investigation after an offstage fight involving Paks and two fellow mercenaries, in which she is initially accused. The thing is, this has her locked up, and the interesting part is someone else showing initiative.
About a quarter of the way into the book, Paks is still a cipher to me, rather than someone I care about, and she's supposed to be the protagonist. I read too character-centered to be interested in this, and couldn't be bothered to finish.
Might might be interesting for military aficionados (Elizabeth Moon was in the US Marine Corps, so presumably it's not too far-fetched), but the more military-centered stories I read, the more I think I just should stay away from the topic/genre.This entry was also posted at http://anke.dreamwidth.org/103569.html. You can comment wherever you prefer.