Was it well done? Absolutely. Do I recommend it? Most certainly. However, this was a first book for me by this writer that caused an uncomforable emotional reaction from me.
Now if only I could explain why. It is certainly not because the story again very realistically deals with the issue of discrimination of people who are different from the regular and stable members of the society. In fact, this is one of the reasons why I read her stories, even her more *fantasy* stories always have rather subtle social commentary on the issues of discrimination which make me think about our society (our I mean many countries in our days). And this one is not fantasy at all, except for the fictituous countries and hinted at religious beliefs system, everything else is extremely realistic, which I loved. But in this one I just plain did not like some decisions Dharn makes and wanted to slap him and some of his clan members and more than once. Ugh, how to explain it better? I like reading about flawed people, I prefer reading about flawed people, but I could not get rid of the sense that I am expected to nod and understand their decisions as right decisions because thats what they had been taught to expect from the society which discriminates against them. And I *did* for example understood their mistrust of the law, really and truly I did, both from growing up in the country where unless you supported a regime, you could easily end up in prison during soviet times especially. Not exactly same thing of course, just saying that I felt I could somewhat relate. Oh I know, I think one thing I react very badly to in many books is a manipulation. And when they made a decision for Kelten instead of letting him to do what he felt he wanted and needed to do, it made me more than annoyed, it made me angry on his behalf. And even at the end, while I get that Dharn wanted to do the noble thing and I felt I had to cheer him up, it again made me angry on Kelten's behalf, because IMO he was again manipulated and I dislike characters who do that.
Oy so hard to explain without spoilers and let me say again the book is very well done, and if you do not have the dislike of manipulation, you may love it more than I did. Maybe you will not even consider it manipulation, I don't know. It is me, after all I am bound to react badly to even tiny hint of it and Dharn is very clearly portrayed as falling hard for Kelden and wanting to correct the mistake he made and he suffered while he was correcting his mistake. Maybe I am making a big deal out of nothing. In other words read the book and decide for your self, that's my opinion :).