Green by Jay Lake
Some ambitious things done with the character and her arc of growth, but the setting wasn't engaging enough, the plot rambled and dragged (the first third in particular) and there wasn't anything in this nearly worth the time to read it. The premise explores a young women's quest, through enslavement and her subsequent career as an assassin. It's the character work here that most lets down the story, I'd say. The protagonist is put in a set of strange situations and adapts to them, but in this processes looses a hold on my perspective. The episodes she gets into are interesting but the character herself seems overly distant, not enough like a coherent and recognizable personality. She's also made a bit too self-aware, adaptable and intelligent to really be believed, which also diffuses some of the tension in moment to moment challenges later in the book.
The most interesting element of the book is easily the setting. Taking the format of a fantasy adventure there's a portrayal here that invovles some tangled explorations of exploitation, weak central control, political struggle contesting past history, sexual slavery, gender and professional violence. It's a grittier take than I'm used to in even modern fantasy, but it makes for some interesting challenges to both customary story-molds and modern politics, without being preachy. There is a lot of potential in seeing a story play out in this kind of world, but as is the work seems interest in the environment more than it fleshes it out.
Better than: Blood Rites by Jim Butcher
Worse than: A Storm of Swords by George R. R. Martin