This is number 2 in the 2014's Books Actually Read list. The fact that, when on a roll, I usually read anywhere from two to five books in a week makes this a somewhat sad statistic, especially when considering it is now the end of February.
WTF? How did we get to the end of February already?
Anyway. Paul Kearney's The Ten Thousand chronicles the events following the hiring of ten thousand Macht mercenaries, who are subsequently marched across another continent to topple the Great King of the Kuf of the Asurian empire, all in the name of said Great King's wannabe Great King-toppling brother.
The Macht are renowned warriors, fighting in disciplined phalanxes and loosely based on the Greek city-states of yore. The story primarily follows Rictus, who joins the army not long after the destruction of his own city, taking on the colour before eventually rising through the ranks to command the entire caboodle. Not without cost, obviously.
The Macht are human in nature; disciplined, professional and brutally direct in combat. The Kuf are taller and more exotic something-elses; rich, bound by tradition and politics. There is not only a clash of arms here, but one of race, culture and prejudice.
The story is excellently written, the combat both gritty and real, and the writing itself compliments the setting - there is a slightly old-fashioned spartan feel to Paul Kearney's style that just works for me, especially in context of the no-nonsense Macht attitude. Yes, yes, I did just do what you thought I did.
I enjoyed this immensely and blitzed through it, and then bought the two sequels. With luck I will manage to read them this year.