Although not obviously a young adult book this was a book that I could read with my children. It made a nice change for me to read a fantasy story that was more interested in court intrigue and petty back-biting than expansive battles and an obvious good versus evil. Even the villains in this story had heart and character. One of them was clearly unhinged but rather than being evil for evil sake there was a sense that his life and choices built up rage and resentment towards his brother to the point where he snapped. I liked that.
Every chapter changes the point of view and this could have been confusing. The author put the name of the character at the start of the chapter to make it clear and easy. IN fact everything about this story works to make it easy to read. I flew through this book a lot faster than I thought I would. The descriptions of how wizards learn the laws of physics and then tweak them to create magic really worked for me. Changing the nature of things rather than creating or destroying them fits a lot better with my mindset than an abstracted view that magic just is.
My favourite character was the cat. A wizard’s familiar. Except he wasn’t just a cat he was a shape-shifting demon. It was the small things that made this book really work. From the lovable minor characters to the use of language this fantasy story provided me with entertainment throughout. It was more Philipa Gregory than George R.R. Martin and with less executions than either.