THE HOUSE OF THE STAG
Baker's fantasy is completely different from her science fiction, but it's just as good. Gently humorous and ironic, Gard is a character readers will pull for as he moves from foundling to outcast to slave to ruler. Baker's worldbuilding is consistently top-notch, and the various supporting characters are just as well drawn as her antihero.
The Yendri lived peaceful lives in the fields of their homeland -- until the Riders came and enslaved them. Unwilling to rebel, they hid and consoled themselves with stories of eventual freedom. Only Gard, a half-demon raised by the Yendri, was willing to fight back; his reward was to be ostracized, and he eventually ends up a slave of the mages who lived in the mountain.
Gard earns his freedom from slavery and eventually finds himself the commander of demon armies, not to mention facing a confrontation with the people who raised him -- and the woman he loves. (Tor, Sep., 352 pp., $24.95)