I picked up this book on a recommendation and I'm not disappointed. Its a fast-paced and interesting book with a good mix of characterisation and action. Nobody is truly good or truly bad, or even truly what they seem - even the "big bad guy" Thralic has admirable qualities, and the "good guy" mentor figure could be said to be a little without morals in a lot of his methods.
What makes it truly stand out is its setting, which throws out standard fantasy conventions in favour of the "kinden", humans who share some of the traits of insects (and can use "the Art" to manifest some of their physical characteristics). The Mantis=kinden are superlative lone warriors, the Spider-kinden are the well-known manipulators of the world, the hive-mind Ant-kinden are masters of warfare, and the list goes on. An industrial revolution has run roughshod over a near-medieval world, with ornithopters, lighter-than-air ships and curious gadgets.
A final thing worthy of note is the author's easy to read and erudite style.
You'll like this if:
- You enjoy action-packed, but intelligently plotted, stories.
- You enjoy a book that draws you in to twists and turns.
- You like different, exotic concepts built on a solid fantasy base.
You'll dislike this if:
- You don't like your fantasy without Elves and Dragons.
- You don't like technology in your fantasy.
- You prefer whiter-than-white heroes and linear plots.
This is a great book, and I am looking forward to the sequel.