Vigilant, by James Alan Gardner, is a solid book in the Expendables universe. While it's not the strongest book, it does have enjoyable mysteries and plotting, and a solid viewpoint character (Faye).
Men of Iron, by Howard Pyle is about a fictional struggle in early 15th century England. The book does a good job of hewing to the viewpoints of the era; unlike most of today's fantasy, the characters have viewpoints appropriate to the era. Despite stilted speech and some interesting authorial choices as to which parts of the story he'd tell, it was a good read. (Discussion about it will start up soon in CVGamer's bookcase.)
Ursula LeGuin's Gifts is a good book, and a strong start on a series. It's in the Young Adult section, but is as interesting and complex as most of her stories. The tale of Orrec and Gry growing up as landholder's children in a fantastic Scotland analogue is light on action and long on solid, believable thought.
Vigilant was a random bookstore purchase-- I didn't think it was a new Gardner book (I pounce as soon as they hit paperback), but didn't remember the story. It is a solid entry; Faye is a sympathetic character... kind of an investigator with a wild history. The book keeps you turning the pages. While Faye does some... interesting things, you never feel she's being stupid to advance the plot. Festina turns up in the middle of the book and exerts a little more gravity than the interaction seems to justify, but it works out well in the end. I don't suggest this book someone's first book in the Expendables universe (I suggest Expendable for that), it's a solid entry.
Men of Iron is a very traditional "boy grows to manhood" story, with the bulk of the short book being devoted to Myles' squire period. His stubbornness is appealing to a modern reader, and makes the appropriate waves in the novel's world. The story feels "pruned" in places-- key events that would have been the heart of another person's book about Myles are summarized in two paragraphs.
The other characters suffer in comparison; Gascoyne never develops beyond a puppy like character who is overwhelmed by Myles. He constantly agrees with Myles-- when he disagrees, he always gives in. He's the second most present character, but he never feels real.
The scheming and politics of the situation feel solid and real; the background could be real history with a the novel's characters standing in for historical people with the names and events only slightly changed. It's a bit unfortunate that Myles is so sensible-- this part of the tale is also fascinating, but we lack a viewpoint, so we only see the results as they affect Myles.
In the end, it feels a little stilted, some of the conventions about point of view are a little strange to me, and key events are swept aside as tangential to the plot. Unlike most fantasy novels, you're not following one character as he undergoes life. Instead, you're hearing the story of Myles' training and fight to restore his family's legitimacy. Everything else, no matter how important to Myles, is disposed of quickly. (Save one romance subplot.)
Gifts was another solid book. I liked Orrec and Gry and appreciated their struggles. The only curious note is the introduction of Emmon early, then setting him aside for most of the book, and not having him impact the main story dramatically. The decision to mention him at the beginning signaled importance to me, that wasn't delivered on. Otherwise, I wolfed the book down. It's not long, and if you're interested in battle scenes, you'll want another book. The constraints on the main character's views and experiences are sharp and feel authentic. The characters feel somewhat modern in their thoughts and morals, but it made it easy to identify with them both. There are a number of twists, and the shadow of doubt hangs heavy over much of the book. The doubts, the concern... everything works together to make Orrec's tale compelling.