I must confess it wasn't an easy read. Reading the build-up to the climax was a mentally painful exercise, to say the least. There's more characters in here than ASoIaF and Wheel of Time combined. So many characters you want to stop reading the book altogether. In a nutshell, it's a very difficult read.
As I'm having exams next week, I really should've paused reading it, seeing as the book was annoying. Enter Ivenn: 11th of July, she's 71% done. And I'm just 50% done. Quick, I had to do this. Sacrifice a few hours. Just a few hours after all. Fast forward to the 12th of July, evenfall, 5:00pm GMT +1, yippee, I'm done!
While it's a great plot, it does take an awful long time to ignite. Infact, it didn't ignite until 75% of the way. Afterwards, the rest was a blur. I literally blazed through the final quarter of the book, so engrossing it was.
There's a number of elements that makes this book stand out. The first is the gradual unravelling of the plot. It's slow going but picks up pace at the best possible time. Secondly, it's highly unpredictable. Almost as unpredictable as ASoIaF. Thirdly, the characters are well developed. You don't get that very often in epic fantasy these days. These days, authors tend to focus more on the plot, leaving the characters unattended to until they become caricatures of their original selves. The characters here actually move along with the plot. Asides following the plotline, readers can also follow the development of the majority of the cast. While there's a number of protagonists and antagonists, we're only given insight into who the major protagonist and antagonist is in the final pages of the book. Keeps you guessing all through.
Then there's the themes in the book. Everything needed for a perfect dish of dark, grim fantasy is here. Magic? Check. Betrayal? Aplenty. Violence? You can literally here the screams of dying men. A flawed hero? There's more than one flawed hero here. Malice? The book actually reeks of Malice, trust me! Revenge? It's a major theme. There's white, black and gray characters.
Only thing I'd improve about the book is the setting. Somewhat confusing to me.
A must read!