This book is great, the character development is very realsistic in my opinion. Contrary to another review, I would say that the Knights of Helm vs Native Mazticans conflict is nail-biting. It does not represent the Invaders as any more "Civilised" than those they attack. They are described as having a "washed out" appearance, "strange, sprouting" facial hair and also carrying a rank odour. In the way that events are told, I myself interpreted the book as saying that the conflict was unfortunate, and more the fault of the evil worshippers of the Maztican War God. Another brilliant factor would have to be a secret conspiracy element which definetly does not rip of history.
This is by far the most well-developed Forgotten Realms book I have ever read, although some humour wouldn't have gone amiss.