This book is far more crime family drama than it is a fantasy epic. That isn't a bad thing, but it was a bit of a surprise for me. Between the slow build and the tone being different than what I expected, it took me a while to settle into the groove of this one, but once I did it was fairly enjoyable.
The world building is really top notch, and I was interested in learning more and spending time in this universe. The characters were also well drawn, if not terribly original. The plot ticked along, building momentum as the book progressed. Lee heavily telegraphs where the story is going, and I called what was going to happen pretty early on, but that didn't really diminish any satisfaction in watching things unfold. The surprise isn't really so much what is going to happen but the specifics of precisely how and why things will unfold. All in all this is a really well crafted story.
So why didn't I rate it higher? Lee has quite a bit of narrative distance in her writing, and as a result I found it hard to fully connect to the characters and invest in the story. I felt like I was watching it from afar, which blunted some of its sharpness and immediacy. I'm also not a huge fan of crime family dramas, though this one did win me over in the end. I'm curious to see where this series goes, but I don't know if that curiosity will be able to win out against the sheer size of these books (I'm not a huge fan of long books). I will say this: I reeeeeeeeally want a TV show or movie to be made out of these. This story is just begging for a visual translation!