Apparently I do what the Internet tells me to do. And boy did it work out for me this time. I read the first of these books -- Child of Fire, recommended by Bill Martell.
The writing is pretty stunning. The structure of the novel is very interesting. We spend zero time getting set up. It's like we were dropped right on page 25 of a screenplay. We know inside of two pages that the main character knows a small amount about magic, has a magic knife that he made, had some tattoos which protect him, and works for a super-powerful sorceress - type gal. He's already made his decision to help her destroy evil magic in the world and they are, literally, going down the highway. He's already made the decision.
There's a rule in writing that you try to write as far into a scene as possible. This novel is fascinating in that it starts as far into the book as possible.
I really can't say enough how awesome this book is.
Note that Bill's review is technically wrong. This is, by the way, another awesome thing about the way these books are written. Bill remembers the backstory which let the lead character to make the decision, but that's not actually how the book opens. It's written in the first person and the character "Ray" does in fact bring up all those points about his impending trial, etc., but he's in the middle of a road chase at the beginning of the book.
Now note that I think it's very cool that Bill tells the story in the way he does in his review. Because that's how you'll remember the story. It's an awesome setup. But the book actually starts about a week after those events. We never "flash back" to those things, but Ray introduces us to them little by little as the story goes along. But we think that's how the story started. Man, that's some writing right there.
Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I'm picking up the second novel tonight...