I had a lot of trouble putting this book down. The times when I did were times when I absolutely could not stand the torture being put on characters I loved.
This novel, as far as genre novels go, is pretty cliche. There aren't a whole lot of big surprises. You have your ranger, your wizard, your evil baddie who's so strong they have to work up to him, yadda yadda yadda. You have your impossible quest, your beautiful woman, and even a dragon. Yippee!!
All that being said, this was a wonderful, character-driven piece that had me on the edge of my seat. Every single character lived and breathed with his or her own personality, and there wasn't a weak character in the batch. The good guys were *so* good and so charismatic that at times I had to get up and walk away because I couldn't stand what was happening to them anymore, and with one exception, the bad guys were *so* bad that I rejoiced when bad things happened to them. I have no problem with black and white, and there was no doubt in this one who the good guys and bad guys were.
The sole exception was the Mord-Sith, Mistress Denna, who had more layers than you normally see in a genre novel. At first, I hated her and really wanted to hurt this fictional character. But by the end, I nearly wept for her and what her life had been.
Warning: The torture and murder scenes are graphic. If, like me, you have a vivid imagination and can't stand the thought of someone being in pain, open the book at your own peril. If you love children and can't stand the thought of anyone hurting them, think twice before you read the book. But if you love a good, character-driven story where you really get to know the people in the book, it's a wonderful read, and a fast one, considering it's an 800-pager.