A so-so but surprising maiden venture by a corporate cost accountant who shows distinct signs of having a better book in him. The premise is downright silly: a few decades hence, the great multinational corporations have largely replaced economic competition with stylized mock warfare involving hired mercenary ""armies,"" harmless weapons, and the ""renting"" of land for battlefields in conveniently distant parts of the globe. This happy state of affairs is mysteriously upset by shadowy powers seeking to pit the finest mercenary forces against the last shreds of government authority. Asprin's rather meager scenario is developed with a good deal of momentum. But he will have to do something to rid his prose of illiteracies like ""painful and irreversible death."" Thin and occasionally childish, but carried off with some verve.