This story is set in a vividly imagined setting rather reminiscent of some Asian societies. An awful lot of work goes into descriptions - one of the best described settings that I've read in fanstasy for a long time! The story itself is interesting and captures the reader's interest as we follow the activities of a host of characters in their attempts to end the greedy emperor's reign over this city, each for their own reasons.
One let down is possibly that there are too many characters. When it came to double crossing deeds, I often found the characters astonished that it could have been person X - but person X had been mentioned so fleetingly earlier in the story that I had no memory of who he or she was or what role they'd previously played. Another fault is that you don't get to see into the main character enough with her parts usually focused on action or setting rather than motives or anything personal. However, Iysllt has a series of books planned to tell her stories so it's entirely possible that her character will roll out more in future releases. Finally, the author sometimes gets so caught up in some events, usually actions between characters, that they are often weighed down under a hefty number of descriptive words that render what's actually happening extremely confusing and difficult to follow. I found that I had to reread some passages twice, sometimes more, just to understand what was actually going on.
Despite its flaws, I felt that the book was a very enjoyable read that I would recommend to others. I am definitely awaiting the publication of the next book in the series!