First impressions are rather disappointing - it looks like it's going to be a hum-drum fantasy with a sci-fi explanation, and takes a long time to get going, all the while interspersed with some expository sections that make one really worry about whether the plot will be allowed to naturally develop. Thankfully, things improve about a third of the way in, and while the story still doesn't feel fully developed (to be fair it is the author's first book) it does at least become entertaining. Unfortunately you never get a feel for the main characters. In fact, it's a very minor character, one who another editor could well have insisted was cut out, who is the most interesting. The "birth" of a conscious AI and its crisis of confidence is handled deftly, and I wish it had been introduced earlier and had a bigger role to play. Overall, I'm glad I read this, but also glad it was a free download from the author's website. If I'd bought it based on the strength of the author's other work, I'd have felt somewhat cheated.