I rarely give any novel five stars, as I have found few perfect books. I rated this one 5 Stars for exceptional writing, characterization, and plotting.
Well written with excellent world building (and more than one) that doesn’t intrude into the storyline but serves as a convincing backdrop.
Starts out with an “All aboard!” with the introduction of the two main characters, Aric and Maurin; sometimes difficult to keep up with but that may be due to reading it in several sittings instead of all at once… which I prefer. I would have liked to have more background info on these two characters, and that they were not submerged by excellent characters added later – notably, Dania (the female gladiator), Talauna (mute alien), and Valasand (who is many and mysterious things). The supporting characters are more equals than supporting, and well done in all areas.
The novel continues to build up steam with locomotive intensity with the confrontations and machinations of the bad guys, who threaten (Lord Krige) at times to overshadow the good guys, as they are complex as well as self-serving. Only the chief antagonist, Argoneis , borders on the clinched insane nut job character by going overboard a bit too often.
Ending with a full steam ahead to the conclusion as each character has his or her own purpose, and each learn a few life lessons and discover their true place in the world – and not just their own. They grow, mature, change, and learn reliance on not only themselves, but each other.
Overall, the novel is excellent; a good read that holds your interest throughout.
I recommend it highly to all fantasy fans.