Date Read: January 2, 2016
This is a fantastic kick-off to what will surely turn out to be a truly epic series! The lines of adventure and action of the plot are pushed and pulled by the subtle twists of intrigue created by the plethora of individual interests and motivations of the many well-developed characters. The depth and breadth of the cast is truly fantastic, and their unique and wholly developed schemes are intricately woven together to create a treacherous landscape that comes to life in a fully functional fictional universe.
While some of the names are a bit iffy on the tongue, the characters and places themselves are richly crafted. It's certainly one of the best ground-up fantasy universes I've seen in YA fiction in a while. There are twists and sudden turns on every page and nearly all of them are simultaneously very logical, and yet rather deliciously surprising.
The romantic lines are on the back-burner, a place perfectly suited to them in light of the circumstances around the characters concerned. The relationships, both the loves and friendships being portrayed, develop in a very realistic manner: touching every facet of the characters' lives without becoming the sort of 'great romance' that all too often narrows great sagas into rather trite tales.
It's a fantastic read!