The world in this novel was divided between two kinds of magic users: Privileged & Powder Mages. While the limitations of what Powder Mages could do and could not do were clearly described, the author left the Privileged's extent of power in murky waters. That is why, whenever they pulled some new kind of crap, the reader would think it was within the magic-user's reach. Of course, we find out later that there were other sorcerers who were much more powerful. They are supposed to be extinct but at least three of them make an appearance.
The gods have abandoned the world or so the people think. So far, I have met two of them! While the most powerful of them all appears just as the book is about to end, his brother, a minor god, does get some face time in the book. Mihali can create food from nothing and heals through his cooking. Here is what I imagine he would look like:
There is no dearth of epic fantasies that focus on the military and they manage to snare me at times, (the Bridgeburners in Malazan Books of the Fallen) while failing to do so at other times (Glen Cook's Black Company). This one fell into the former category and I started to care about Olem, the Field Marshal's personal bodyguard, and Adamat, a retired police inspector. However much I wanted Olem not to die, when he survived the last fight at the end of the book, I felt as if he was one of Dumas' musketeers -- unkillable!
There are plots within plots and everyone has their own game but this complexity comes nowhere near to what Erikson can embroil his readers in.
For me, reading about the adventure that the soldiers were on was a hoot. The humor that was interwoven within that adventure was a big plus! Here are some of my favorite dialogues: