I actually started the series by reading this book (thank you, Andy, for the gift. Good call) and I enjoyed it quite a bit.
Summary: Three soldiers are dragged into a political argument and ordered to investigate a minor dispute in the outreaches of the realm, which leads to more than anyone had bargained for.
Pretty good opening concept, although I never read the backs of the books (it ruins the surprise for me). What interested me more than anything else was the pure grittiness of the world that Joel, whom I'm sure doesn't mind being on a first-name basis from me, captured and dropped into my hands. In a land of magic, legends and dragons, one wouldn't expect there to be hardship in simply travelling or even danger in getting a simple drink.
If life were so simple, there wouldn't be much of a story. So the attention to detail, the dangers of everyday life in a world without constant police presence, was impressive.
The characters are hardened veterans, having fought, bled and watched those they've known fall in battle, or even in a street fight. They're honorable without being fanatical about it, exceptionally practical and utterly dedicated to their lord. Joel captures and keeps the societal differences between our world and theirs, and the consistency of it was well done indeed.
The characters are Pirojil, ugly as can be and never is he portrayed otherwise, Durine, large and dangerous and distant, and Kethol, heroic and not too bright but humble. Despite their weaknesses, they are engaging and make for some plausible interaction. It seems obvious that people who have worked together for a long time would know each other, but Joel makes it a point to note some of their conversational short-cuts, and includes some failings among friends that are understandable.
Summary: Great characterizations, a good story and some creative solutions to tricky problems. If you liked Glory Road, Outlaws of Sherwood and/or the Deed of Paksenarrion series, you'll like Not Exactly the Three Musketeers.