This is a wonderful book. A fantasy detective novel with complicated and interesting characters who behave like real people. The background is dark and sinister - some of the images are really nightmare-inducingly grim. No one is only good or bad - people do things that are stupid and ill-advised, even when they're trying to do the right thing. It's not a cheery feel-good book (although it's not unremittingly depressing either), and it isn't simple, but it is intelligent and makes you think. I've loved all of Carol Berg's books and this is one of the best.
I thought this was a really good book and a good start to a fantasy series. It's written in first person, narrated by the king's spy, and plenty happens to keep you listening. As I listened to it in audio format, I will add that the narrator was just okay. His voice was quite annoying. He spoke in a middle class English accent with some oddities, such as 'dawg' and 'sawft' for dog and soft. He sounded quite old for the character too. I will definitely buy book two, The Mirror of Souls, as it has a different first person narrator, a woman, so the reader will be different. I opted for 4 stars: 5 for the book, much less for the reader.
Brilliant book, as always from Carol Berg! The right balance of magic and mystery, fantastic character development, good pace of plot. The author keeps you guessing and has you chewing your fingernails wondering what's going to happen. Absolutely loved it, can't wait to read the next two!