The Curse of Chalion

Cazaril heard the mounted horsemen on the road before he saw them. He glanced over his shoulder. The well-worn track behind him curled up around a rolling rise, what passed for a hill on these high windy plains, before dipping again into the late-winter muck of Baocia’s bony soil

Lois McMaster Bujold is one of the big names in SFF, but I’ve only recently come to read her books. A few months ago I read Paladin of Souls, which is the second in the Chalion series. But although there are reoccuring characters and shared history I don’t think you have to have the first one in order to read that. I hadn’t, but I’m sure that if I now reread it after reading The Curse of Chalion it would make a lot more sense.