Spoiler alert! This review reveals significant plot details.
As a voracious reader, I'm always pleased to find another fantasy author. This is the first book by Sharon Shinn that I've read, and it has not let me down.
Shinn weaves an interesting story that is so rich in detail and emotion that it feels cinematic. Her tone provides a humorous evaluation of each scene and allows me to imagine myself there, experiencing the events. This is not something that every author can do, and do well. By the time I was halfway through, I was cheering when the protagonists succeeded and booing when an antagonist gained the upper hand. And of course, I yelled at Cammon for falling in love with Amalie when that love was still forbidden--I tend to have a very energetic relationship with my books. I just couldn't put it down.
There are some aspects of the story that are campy. It lacks an element of true tragedy; I don't know if this is true of all of Shinn's books in this series, or just this book in particular. I enjoy it when things work out for the protagonists, but I just don't feel complete unless there is a single last note of sadness to go along with all the triumph. It can't be "happily ever after." There has to be some price paid (Senneth possibly losing her magic doesn't really compare, in my mind). Yeah, I'm a cruel, sadistic reader. :D But an ending with any hint of tragedy undermines the emotional importance of victory. It feels more hollow.
That being said, I'm extremely glad that I chose to read this book. I'm certainly going to be reading more Sharon Shinn books in the near future.