No elves, no magic rings and no vampires, but there is an unusual little fox. So promises the back cover of Storm Approaching, by Brian Libby. The blurb goes on to say "Do you thirst for tales of invincible heroes, malevolent Dark Lords, mighty wizards, ferocious (or benevolent) dragons, and prophecies that must come true? Sorry."
That hits the spot when you're burned out on high fantasy.
This is fantasy military fiction, if that exists as a sub-genre. Storm Approaching, the first volume of the Mercenaries series, is a fun, fine read. The orphan Andiriel leads an almost charmed life, with things seemingly going well for her at every turn. With a few little bumps along the way.
She almost gets kidnapped by pirates, she almost gets killed by assasins, the future she thinks she has planned for herself quickly falls apart and she must find a way to support herself and make a name for herself. She becomes a messenger/spy, she travels across much of her known world, and when that falls through and it looks like she has no where to go, she finds a downtrodden group of mercenaries in serious want of a leader, respect, and cash. She quickly develops a plan to change her own future and that of the mercenaries, training them and encouraging them to become worthy of fighting alongside the more famous and profitable mercenary groups. Her new group will fight for her country or it's allies, and bring her back closer to her home.
Andi's good fortune and innate charm allow her to quickly ingrain herself in situations, and with people she needs, to better herself, and often those around her. Even when things look grim for her, she slips out of trouble or finds a situation that allows her to move on and move up. So much so that at time reading this it really does seem like she's charmed - things sometimes seem to go too well for her, without any serious down-beats to humanize her. But that just a minor quibble with a good book.
Storm Approaching is a self-published book. I've found, at least in the few that I've read, that self-published or POD books are as good as, if not better, than many mainstream novels. Storm Approaching definitely falls into that category. I've been burned out on fantasy novels lately, but this certainly brought me enjoyment.
A series is only good if the current book makes you want to continue the series; this one did. More on that in a future review.