An extremely enjoyable fantasy read... but I've come to expect nothing less from Hobb. The extreme realism of the world succeeds in drawing the reader in completely - but that makes some of the "stranger" insertions look all the more contrived and jarring. Similarly, some of the new characters that have been introduced feel much more shallow than the members of the old cast. Or maybe I'm just holding the writer to a much higher standard than I normally would other fantasy writer? Still, reading this was a highly immersive pastime!