I thought this book was absolutely brilliant. I was drawn into the story from page one...although after the first 200 or so pages, a story that was above average to begin with shot straight to the top of my favorites list.It is a fairly complicated story due to various political intrigues...but I can promise you that you will NOT be bored for even a second (or at least, I sure wasn't). The names and places can all be fairly confusing, but by the time the story really gets going you'll have them pretty much down.I thought it was pretty darn original, I've sure never heard of anything even remotely like this before. In an odd way, it was one of the most spiritual books I've ever read...just not by our standards. Their methods of worship are quite different then one might expect. I should take this moment to warn you of several S&M scenes...but all the different sexual portrayals were lovely to me, because Carey has a way of making you see them from the characters' eyes-which means viewing them as a homage to the gods.I can't wait to keep going with this series!*EDIT* Just realized I forgot to mention my one major gripe...the outrageously bad foreshadowing technique. I think this was the author's first book, so hopefully she gets better but...really. There was constantly a "little did I know how important this would be" or "if only I'd known then how it would turn out, I could have done it differently..." It got on my nerves. But the story was so good I forgave her, and eventually I was so caught up I stopped noticing (or maybe it was when I got to the "then" that she wished she'd known before, haha).*ANOTHER EDIT* I just did a half-reread/scan, because I was curious to see if knowing what happens in books 2 and 3 would affect the way I saw this one. I have to say, still love this one...but it made me appreciate how much deeper you go into Phedre and Joscelin's lives in both the next books. I don't like the way Joscelin was portrayed when he first appears: he was always showing either too much insight or far too little, depending on the situation. Once she shames some sense into him during their stay in the Skaldi territory, he seemed to snap into the Joscelin I know and love. I guess that was when his pride took its first big beating. *shrug* anyway, just something I noticed.