Normally, I don't get on with fantasy as a genre; but Glen Cook is an exception. His Black Company series was so good that when I picked up the first volume, and started reading it one lunchtime, I quickly stopped and went to pick up the next two (and went on to pick the rest of that sequence up as they came out).
Towards the end of last year, after a nigh-complete drought of fiction, and too many programming books, I happened to spot the second of the above titles on the shelf at Borders, bought it like a shot, and was annoyed to find it was the second in the sequence. So, the first went on the wish-list, and when it didn't arrive in my Yuletide presents, I just had to order it myself.
So, the story. It's clear from early on that this is a rebadged version of Europe in the high Middle Ages, with Cathars, Albigensians, a rather more enduring Avignon Papacy, Constantinople, and all the turmoils of Outremer, plus a layer of generally malign magic and magical entities on top. In the hands of almost any other author in the field, this would be a sign that I'd throw the damn thing across the room before page 76; but Cook's style and delivery delivered an absorbing read.
And now I'm waiting impatiently for the next volume, and rejoicing that his Dread Empire series is coming back into print...