Although I enjoyed the first half of this book, especially the rich world-building and character portrayals, the second half became standard fantasy fare, with insurmountable odds eventually becoming insurmountable for the author, and each character became a weak shadow of their early potential.
By chapter 26 (page 349 of 572 in the Penguin edition), my reading was more task than enjoyment. The story held interest but one character after another lost significance. I finished the book but by then didn’t care enough about any character to want to read more of the series. It seemed as though the characters escaped from Irvine, that he couldn’t harness their potential or keep their interaction at a dynamic level, so in the end all became ciphers that failed both their tasks and the story.