Kings or Pawns is the first in J J Sherwood's 'Steps of Power' sequence and a very promising start it is too.
In an Elvish land a young elf becomes king and a general, tired and possibly slightly disillusioned after many years of fighting must carry on leading the army in a war he longs to quit but cannot.
The new king, Hairem, is beset by his corrupt government and even when he tries to right wrongs in said government he is thwarted by those who want to keep their power and ill gotten games. A lot of the early stages of KoP is scene setting and plot building, as you would expect but the ideas are interesting enough to keep the reader hooked in until the sub plots and side quests kick in in the second half of the book. And oh, what a busy second half it is, plenty of twists and turns leading to a satisfactory conclusion (although you may have to stop for breath by the end).
The character list in the second half really seems to explode, and my only fault with KoP (and it's only a little one) is that there is so much going on in the later stages that it feels 'over busy - I had to check it was under 400 pages as it felt like an epic, almost 'Sanderson-esque' in scope.
I will add that, as a long term fan of High Fantasy I have never been a fan of the elven races but the ones in this series look like changing my mind.
A well paced, if at times over busy, introduction to a series that promises to be Epic in size and scale
Oh, and one final thing, check out the cover art - "HOW COOL IS THAT?!?!"