Let me start by saying that I really enjoyed this book. When Arielle LeClair publishes subsequent works set in the world she has created, I’ll be there to read those.
This novel contains all the important aspects of a good fantasy novel: intrigue and adventure, a well thought out world, magic and a touch of romance. LeClair builds and maintains tension well, keeping the reader’s attention throughout the entire novel. The magic system is subtle yet central to the story, effective yet not overdone.
Character development is well executed. I had no problems accepting the motivations of the various players. Character development and growth was handled well. One could say that the villain is a tad one dimensional. I wouldn’t have minded having at least one thing that might make her briefly sympathetic. A moment of accessibility here and there to give her more depth. But even this issue isn’t critical.
The only thing about this novel that I struggled with were the sudden shifts in perspective. I’m not sure if LeClair was specifically going for the omniscient third person or not, but I found the sudden changes in point of view jarring in many cases. For a stretch we would be seeing the action as if behind one character and then abruptly in the same scene we’d see the action from another character point of view. It might be better if these changes were isolated by chapter. On the other hand, perhaps other readers would not struggle with this as much as me.
There were a few typos or other small issues here and there but nothing that bothered me. The action and flow of the book easily reduced any impact those things might have had.
But when the dust settled, this was a good book that I enjoyed reading and can easily recommend to readers that enjoy straight up, old school fantasy.