Novik, Naomi. Uprooted

Naomi Novik, Uprooted (2015).

A fiercely elegant high fantasy. Faintly economic themes include magic as a precious commodity, and benign and malign modes of being disheveled, disarrayed, compromised or corrupt. A snippet:
One of the soldiers was a boy my own age, industriously sharpening pike-heads one by one with a stone, skillfully: six strokes for each one and done as quick as the two men putting them along the wall could come back for them. He must have put himself to it, to learn how to do it so well. He didn’t look sullen or unhappy. He’d chosen to go for a soldier. Maybe he had a story that began that way: a poor widowed mother at home and three young sisters to feed, and a girl from down the lane who smiled at him over the fence as she drove her father’s herd out into the meadows every morning. So he’d given his mother his signing-money and gone to make his fortune. He worked hard; he meant to be a corporal soon, and after that a sergeant: he’d go home then in his fine uniform, and put silver in his mother’s hands, and ask the smiling girl to marry him.
     Or maybe he’d lose a leg, and go home sorrowful and bitter to find her married to a man who could farm; or maybe he’d take to drink to forget that he’d killed men in trying to make himself rich. That was a story, too; they all had stories. They had mothers or fathers, sisters or lovers. They weren’t alone in the world, mattering to no one but themselves. It seemed utterly wrong to treat them like pennies in a purse. I wanted to go and speak to that boy, to ask him his name, to find out what his story really was. But that would have been dishonest, a sop to my own feelings. I felt the soldiers understood perfectly well that we were making sums out of them—this many safe to spend, this number too high, as if each one wasn’t a whole man.
     Sarkan snorted. “What good would it do them for you to roam around asking them questions, so you know that one’s from Debna, and this one’s father is a tailor, and the other one has three children at home? They’re better served by your building walls to keep Marek’s soldiers from killing them in the morning.”
     “They’d be better served by Marek not trying in the first place,” I said, impatient with him for refusing to understand. The only way we could make Marek bargain was to make the walls too costly to breach, so he wouldn’t want to pay. But it still made me angry, at him, at the baron, at Sarkan, at myself.
     “Have you got any family left?” I asked him abruptly.