I've read some very good amateur/independent/self-published fiction in my time, but it isn't necessarily common, and I'll admit I wasn't expecting much from this book when I began reading it. In that regard, I was pleasantly disappointed. A strong world was built right from the start, one that showed a clear understanding of how medieval society and politics worked. At the same time, the fantasy element was ever-present and skillfully woven into the historical basis of this world, in a way that made it seem very natural in a way I have rarely seen in fantasy. The result was a rich, unique, and engaging world that did not merely draw from existing mythology but created its own and made it real.
It was a slower book than most I've read, with few moments of actual action and much of the novel devoted to politics and scheming, but far from it to say it wasn't good or interesting. It's not what I would call a casual read, as it took my full attention to keep track of all the characters and the various elements of the story, but that made it all the more engrossing. I did find some climactic events lost a bit of their impact due to much information being revealed beforehand; while said information was revealed sensibly, it did undermine the surprise of what could have been a much more dramatic event.
Still, I found this a very enjoyable and recommended read, and I am certainly interested in seeing where the story goes in the second book of the trilogy. The precedent set in this book seems to be building towards quite an epic conclusion.
(reviewed 7 months after purchase)