"The two books, combined, are about 1200 pages of extraordinarily rich storytelling...best of all, while conjuring up a world as lush as Tolkien's Middle Earth, Russell manages to end his book, not with something as arbitrary as casting a magical ring into a sea of molten rock, but rather with something far more like the real world, as a great invasion dashes against the rock of human nature.... [This is] the best of contemporary fantasy."
(Orson Scott Card, bestselling author of Ender's Game)
"Russell is one of the best new post-Tolkien, post-Le Guin generation of fantasists."
(The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, Vol. XI)
"[He] has proven himself a master of intelligent fantasy--subtle, exciting, well-crafted."
(Stephen R. Donaldson, World Fantasy Award-winning author)
"[The Initiate Brother is] fantasy at its best."
"A beautifully mounted and original story set in an imaginary ancient Orient, with intrigue, mystique, beauty and wit.... Russell has taken the time to flex his imagination and come up with a fresh setting for a fantasy that, instead of trading in genre clichés, sends you on a sumptuous, often exhilarating journey to a time and place that never was."
[The Initiate Brother duology] is one of those very rare stories in any genre, one that can be read again and again and always reveals something new. I'm beginning to think it truly does deserve to be called a masterpiece."
(Green Man Review)