If this wasn't a Jane Lindskold book I would have put it down. I have been a huge fan of her since my teens and I would have dared you to say that she would write anything boring or nearly unreadable. Except, well, she did. I've wracked my brain to figure out what went wrong with this series. Was it that there were no clear stakes until the last 50-75 pages? Was it the heavily mannered complexity of the ancient Chinese based magic system? Was it the lack of character growth on the part of the main heroine? It was all of these things and none. Lindskold put a good enough hook in the end of the book that I will be finishing the trilogy. After that I'll be glad to return to her other series.