This book is great: it's a solid stand alone fantasy with archaeologists and antiquities forgers, puzzles and poisons, gruesome magic and bloody knife fights, and a complexly post-apocalyptic world of cosmic scope. Because this is a Martha Wells book, there is court intrigue, some interesting gender dynamics, and a light touch on the romance. The light hand on the romance is actually my only complaint: I would have liked a more emotionally involved romance. But one can't have everything.
This book's a wikedly good read set in a completely original world. The desert landscape and peoples/races, the ascending tower-city, and the magic-that-makes-you-mad work magnificently to set up a grand adventure.
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