Monstrous Regiment, Terry Pratchett
Discworld number 31 and again I'm reminded just how wide ranging the references are in Terry Pratchett's series. In this case the novel takes its name from the 16th century tract The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women by Protestant John Knox, arguing against the female Catholic sovereigns at the time. Pratchett's novel is the story of an ongoing war that is draining a kingdom of people to fight it, the madness of leaders and efforts put into the propaganda war, as opposed to the actual fighting war (both of which, to be fair, are utterly pointless). The years of war have done little but ensure that later day squads of soldiers are mostly made up of women in disguise (because they are running out of men able to fight), all of whom are off to battle for a variety of reasons from looking for the father of their unborn child, to stories like that of Polly Perks, who joined the army to find her brother Paul. There's the hints of how to use a well-placed pair of socks, there is a vampire, a troll, a zombie, a religious fanatic and that pair of "friends" and then there's Sergeant Jackrum, who has been in the army forever and does a good line in loud shouting, and pointed asides.
Cleverly done as always, I really enjoyed listening to this story again, many years after first reading it.
Polly Perks joins the Discworld army to find her brother Paul. "Ozzer" cuts off blonde braids, dons male garb, belches, scratches, and masters macho habits aided by well-placed pair of socks. Legendary and seemingly ageless Sergeant Jackrum accepts her plus a vampire, troll, zombie, religious fanatic, and two close "friends". The best man for the job may be a woman.