Having read Rabe's DRAGONS OF A NEW AGE trilogy and now this, I've come to the conclusion that she has a difficult time writing characters that act like actual people would. This tended to improve as the aforementioned trilogy progressed, but it was terrible in this book. What I mean by this is, if something strange or suspicious occurs, most people would stop and question it. However, Rabe's characters tend to blithely continue on with what they were doing and don't give it a second thought. Very very frustrating to read when you know that it needs to be questioned. It's as if Ms. Rabe just wants to get where she's going and she completely disregards the fact that she needs to make her characters act like normal people in order to make them believable. This makes it very difficult to become emotionally involved with either the characters or the story. I'm guessing that this is one of her early works because, by the third book of DRAGONS OF A NEW AGE, her characters were behaving more reasonably.
The other thing about this book that caused me to dislike it so much was the fact that her main elf character, Gair, didn't act like an elf at all. He was impatient, impetuous, and, for someone who claimed to be a scholar in the field of magic, tended to jump right in to doing something without even considering the consequences. These characteristics are all the complete opposite of those describing an elf. They are more along the lines of a human. If you're going to create a character and assign them a race and you want them to be believable, they have to have at least some of the characteristics of that race. Gair seemed to have none. I felt no sympathy for him whatsoever. I am sure this was not Rabe's intent, but she fell completely flat in attempting to make me connect with the character.
Finally, since Gair was such an integral part of the plot and Ms. Rabe was forcing him into acting so unlike an elf, the whole story just seemed to contrived. It was simply a way of establishing Goldmoon's Citadel of Light for use in subsequent books. A story had to be created to put these pieces into place. The bad characterization just made it blatantly obvious to the reader that the whole point of the book was to get to the ending point. Unfortunately, Rabe's handling of the characters just made the journey unpleasant and unbelievable.
It was a decent story, but nothing to get excited about. The execution could have been light years better. Unless you're a hardcore Dragonlance fan, you can probably skip this book and not miss much (if anything).