- Adventure in a world sort of like our own. The names are all familiar, but nothing is quite what it was. It's funny to see what attitudes change when survival rather than fiscal success is the goal.
- Detailed descriptions. Some people might actually see this as a downside, but the anthropologist in me loves the descriptions of how all the different cultures and regional differences morph and gel after the break.
- Coming together. This book marks the point in the series when all the previous books begin to have some relevance. Everything that happened before seems to come back to help or haunt the protagonists.
- The fantasy aspect. Doesn't bother me, but I know many readers will dislike the fantastic aspects that are becoming more prevalent. They certainly were not present (or prominent anyway) in the War of the Eye or the early books, but there is no escaping them now.
- Character shift. Many of the best characters from the early books are either now dead or supplanted in the story. The new characters are fine, but there has been a relatively high attrition rate. This is one of those tales that runs a fine line between a realistic approach to mortality, and not staying the same story due to character death.