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4.1 out of 5
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    Life's too short and this is too long

    This book has so much going for it, that it's almost a shame I had to put it down. The characters a well-drawn, each with their own agendas and predilections, very unique and in their own ways, memorable. The world is more like a gritty steampunk creation that runs on magic dust instead of coal. There are plenty of magical creatures at the periphery, and many other details that get woven in slowly. McKinley is not one to stop the story to explain things, the reader must figure things out on their own. I must also mention that the author has a prodigious vocabulary that sent me to my dictionary countless times. Unfortunately, I decided to put the book aside when I reached Chapter 20. In the past, I have read long books where it takes some time for the action to start, but this whole book seems to be the set-up for the second, or possibly third volume. I don't care to wait that long to get some kind of gratification. One might point to "The Lord of the Rings" as an example of epic fantasy that takes a while to get going. Sorry, but TLotR had plenty of action in the first 200 pages, and I found Tolkien's masterpiece to be boring and overlong as well.
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    The best fantasy novel I've read in a long time!

    I loved loved loved this book. I notice it seems unpolished, as in the editing is a bit off (typos abound). However, that didn't detract from the powerful narrative and complex world the author is building that is so gripping. I will 100% be moving on to the next book. I must know what happens. It's my new "Song of Ice and Fire" series.
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