Not gonna lie...I wasn't overly enthusiastic about the book given it's promotional blurb. I expected D&D swordsy barbarian questy stuff without much story. Boy, was I wrong.
Oh, that's part of it, but there's so much more. In fact, most of the story and characters can be described that way. Lexi is a diplomat's wife...but so much more. Evie is a savage warrior...but so much more. Dyeawan works for the Planning Council...and so much more. Etc. The characters are multi-layered and realistic, not just the cookie cutter archetypes you see in a lot of epic fantasy. Characters are key to a strong series
The other important point is the world building. It's so hard to build a world in epic fantasy that shows more than the microscope of the quest. Sure, the badlands of Country X have all these monsters and battles, but what is life like in the city? Matt Wallace creates a country almost like Pern. It has a history, a past that can be referred to that has the benefit of helping understand the present and build to the future. Also, you get the perspective of not just the questors, you get common folk, police, craftsmen, politicians.
There's so much to say about it and typical of the first book in a series, our characters complete an arc in this book that leads to their stories in the next, and i for one cannot WAIT to see where it goes.