Damn. So let me tell you about this book.
No, that's no good, I'd spoil it. Let me wax philosophical about this book.
It isn't what you expect. When you think you have it figured out, it isn't that, either. And all the things you expect because you've read other books? It especially isn't that.
This is probably the most intelligent and lovingly critical (or critically loving) treatise on fantasy I've ever read, and yet it isn't actually a treatise at all. It's a story. No, hear me: this is a STORY.
STORY. It follows the story to the real end, beyond where fantasy books usually stop. It's terrifyingly practical, and the middle bits get so dark that I said, "Damn, she can't fix this!" in the middle of our local Big and Tall store while my husband tried on swimsuits.
Hear me, reader, book-lover, story-collector: Frey fixes it. The right way. The only way. When you hit that dark part (believe me, you'll know), keep reading. (You may need a break to curse in a department store, but that's excusable.)
Read to the end. In fact, that quiet, gloriously non-climactic last few pages are solidly some of THE most satisfying I have ever read. They're like a sweet ocean sound after the boom and crash of a terrible storm.
So, there: I did not spoil it. I wouldn't dare. Get your thinking cap on, steel your heart (it's gonna hurt), and thank the author. This Story is a hell of a ride, and I, a lifelong fantasy-lover, am deeply glad I read it.
(reviewed the day of purchase)