Valnir's Bane by Nathan Long
Fantasy heroes come in all shapes and sizes, but few are less able to fit the classic image than the Black Hearts. In a terrific twist on the classic war story, this disreputable band of convicts is released from the dungeons and given a grim choice: volunteer for a suicide mission or die by the noose. They do the former, of course, but when they learn their quest is to venture deep into the lands of the enemy and retrieve an ancient relic that could turn the tide of the war, they begin to seriously regret their choice. With broad characters and violent action, this riotous novel introduces the Black Hearts in just the first of a planned series of adventures.