This was the first Robin Hobb book I have read. I'm torn on my rating. I really liked the story. It set up a great world and posed some very interesting issues. However, the main character is a major weakness in my mind. He is clearly incurious, arrogant, ignorant, and all around dull. He takes no responsibility for his actions and can't seem to find a set of values or ideas to act upon. For anyone who is familiar with the Hero's Journey articulated by Joseph Campbell I think my main issue is that Nevare seems to spend the entire story in the "Call to Adventure" phase. This is not a perfect fit, as Nevare is acting as a hero to both the cavalla and the People. As a member of the People his alter gladly accepts the call to adventure and begins the journey. However, the alter is clearly set up to be Nevare's main antagonist. As a member of the cavalla, Nevare clearly accepts the call to adventure, but he spends the entire story whining about the conflict between Spink and Trist, being wilfully ignorant concerning his cousin Epiny, and refusing to understand the magical connection he experiences. All in all, I like the story and will probably read the sequels because I want to see what happens, though I really wish the story was framed with a more interesting protagonist.