I never know to say in these things. I guess that says something about me. I read a lot, write stories, and like books. I like a good debate. Nothing else is to say. :-)
I loved, loved, loved the world building in this book. You can see that amount of work and research that when into creating each world with its own history and internal politics, and culture. And I found it really fascinating that each world has its own cosmology and astrology and rules. Temur's world of many moons was the most interesting. That a moon laid in the sky to represent each member of his family, and snuffed out when they died. It is comforting and terrible at the same time. How would that work? If we had more than one moon our entire system, as far as tides, weather, and time...everything would be so different. I try not to think to hard how one world could exist with each land occupying a different sky and set of starts/sun....unless each land is in a different dimension/plane. So many questions. This is why I enjoy fantasy: the many different ways people can dream up world and create whole people and history just from their imagination. It never gets old. And we can never run out of stories.
Another thing I loved was that all of the main characters were either women, or POC. Yes!!!! Thank you for the change. It gets tiring always reading fantasy where everyone is pale and white and male...no offense...but as I mentioned in the first paragraph...fantasy is so ripe for just doing what you want and making things up: dragons, magic, half-bird half -males, rock people, talking bunnies, whatever.....yet somehow the rarest of things to find in fantasy are some decent female characters and some people of color? Come one. Let's do something different. Spice it up. So the fact that this book was based in a fantasy Asian country (a fantasy China/Mongolia) pleased me from the start. Let's try Africa next...maybe...South America....the world is wide...and the fantasy world is wider.
I also liked that while there was magic, it was subtle...and it was not without cost. It just wasn't some easy solution to solve every problem. For women in Rasa to become wizards...they had to sacrifice their womb....men their...well...yeah. There are costs. The main villain uses magic to get his way and is very powerful...but it drains him and there are limits to how much he can use without causing harm to himself. So it makes things interesting. Magic to me would cause lots of conflict internal and external.
So the world and settings were great, and the characters were great. My only complaint was I guess the story...or the style. I felt like while a lot of things happened in this book, and it introduced many characters and story points....that mainly that what it all was: an introduction. It was all just basically build up for the next book. There was no central theme/story for the first book besides the building up for the next and introduction of the world and character. While that is great as there are lots of sink your teeth into...my personal choice is if there is to be a series...that at least each book has its own beginning, middle and end. And it builds to the next. I guess I like so self-contained books...even if they are in a series. It tends to keep me more interested. So it is more of a personal style thing. This is what account for the less stars. Besides that…a great book.