I guess I'm in a Stackpole kind of mood. After finishing his latest trilogy, I had a hankering for Talion: Revenant.
While this isn't Stackpole's first published novel, his author's notes at the end make it clear that this was the first novel he wrote. It's interesting comparing this to his last three; the plot is a little more simple and focuses around one character, namely Nolan ra Sinjaria.
Nolan is a Talion. The Talions are an ancient order of peace keepers. Some are trained as soldiers, some as cavalry. Some fly hawks the size of horses. Some learn arcane spells. Some are clerks. But Nolan is a Justice. Justices wander the Shattered Empire and set things right.
The Master of all Talions has a particularly dangerous assignment for Nolan. He has to head to Hamis to stop an assassin from killing the king. But this mission dredges up painful memories from his past, not only from his years before becoming a Talion but also from his days as a student.
What makes this book a fun read is that Stackpole seamlessly jumps from Nolan's mission to Hamis to his past. He always has something that makes the transition fit together (for example, at the end of one chapter, he receives a distressing written message from an ally; at the end of the next chapter, he receives a distressing written message from a former friend).
Nolan is an extremely likable character as well. You almost wish he could patrol your neighborhood by the time the book is done. While he is interested in dispensing justice, he wants to do so in a way that doesn't terrify the inhabitants of the Shattered Empire (a quality that not all Justices share).
If you want a taste of this story, read Shepherd, a short story about Nolan. And then go and read the book.
What has me hopeful is that at the end of Shepherd, Stackpole says that there could be another Talion book in the works. I hope there is. I enjoyed questing with Nolan for a second time and I hope I can do so again soon.