Title: The Phoenix Guards
Author: Steven Brust
Genre: Fantasy, sword and sorcery, comedy of manners
Copyright Date: 1991
Cover: A musketeer-looking person holding a foil, in front of a Phoenix rampant. (His torso blocks the naughty bits of the monster, to which I say yay.)
First line: "It has now been a mere two score of years since we had the honor to have our work, Toward Beginning a Survey of Some Events Contributing To the Fall of the Empire, rejected by Lord Tri'ari and Master Vrei of the Institute."
Best part: Very funny.
Worst part: Some of the description can be slow in places.
Grade: A solid B.
Recommended for: Fans of manners fantasy.
Related Reads: Jhereg by the same author, Conflict of Honors by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Death of the Necromancer by Martha Wells.
Four travelers walk into a tavern. Shortly they discover their common cause - each wishes to become a member of the prestigious military company the Phoenix Guards. This is a fantasy novel - what could happen but that they swear friendship forever before covering themselves in glory?
This is a fun read for those who like the manners stuff. It is a cut above the rest in that it's pleasingly even-handed when it comes to gender - one of the most ferocious warriors of the group is a woman. B.