Family members are always the kindest critics, and I've had my younger brother, more than once, refer to my first book I Serve as hobbity. My book hobbity? How dare he! What's wrong with a prologue? Victor Hugo himself spent eighty-some pages discussing Bishop Myriel before the protagonist, Jean Valjean, enters the scene.... Wait a minute. Bad example. I know more than a few people who skim through that part until the real action begins with the silverware thievery.
I'm rather fond of the prologue that leads into the story of I Serve, but recognizing that some readers dislike that style, I've attempted a different approach with The Chronicles of Tancred. Book I, Road from the West, begins with the Normans attacking a city and our hero, Tancred, striding off the field and leaving his post right in the middle of the assault. Book II, Flower of the Desert, also begins at a pivotal point in the story. I won't spoil the surprise my telling you what that is, but if you simply can't wait for the book to be released at the end of this year, I've posted Chapter One for your perusal.
There are many classics that begin a story from the very beginning with a thorough description of the setting or with a long, drawn-out history of the early life of the protagonist (The Mill on the Floss comes to mind). But in our current age of fast-paced television and fast-paced life, perhaps authors should adopt a different approach. Perhaps we should mimic Homer, one of the oldest storytellers of them all, and dive right into the action in media res.