To be blunt I found this book quite compelling. The motivations behind many of the characters were certainly ones I could relate to. The plot was novel enough as were elements such as the magic mechanics. Characterisation was fine, perhaps not a vast amount of depth to each character but certainly sufficient to give each of them personality. The world building however is quite poor so don't expect anything of Robert Jordan standards there.
Fitting with the theme of the book the author has no compunctions about killing off characters. A significant portion of the cast is dead by the end of the book. Partly for that reason I wish this wasn't a series as I have my doubts that sequels will do well after quite so brutal a culling. That said I'm still going to buy and read the second so fingers crossed.