A first novel.
The first volume of a fantasy sequence collectively called Tyrants and Kings, The Jackal of Nar starts off with a grueling account of what is still trench warfare even if its weaponry is magic flame cannons and trained wolves. The hero Richius is fighting a war he does not believe in for an emperor he loathes. Quite minor incidents come back to haunt him--he prevents a rape and makes a mortal enemy of a rival commander, and the almost casual decision to remain in a tavern in the company of prostitutes produces an obsession that dominates his life.
Marco's frequent clumsiness of style and plotting are almost irrelevant; Richius is a flawed hero whose sense of his own righteousness costs those around him even more than it does him, and there is a real power to his story. This is a book with some splendidly corrupt villains--the Emperor Arkus, obsessed with the pursuit of longevity and the manipulation of everyone around him; Biaggio, his smoothly vicious chief of police--and with opponents of whom we learn more when Richius is forced to change sides; Tharn, the fundamentalist wizard and warlord; and his aging servant Voris.
Source: Roz Kaveney, Amazon.co.uk.