I loved the original three Kushiel books. I miss those characters--it's the same world, but they're only historical figures in this book. I'm enjoying the tour through this alternate world on it's own terms now--this one featuring it's version of Russia and India. And I like Moirin--not the way I loved Phedre as a heroine--but then again Bao is shaping up as my favorite Carey hero to date. And if these books have yet to move me to tears the way the Kushiel books did--well, this sure had me eagerly scrolling through the pages to learn what happens next. I did begin to feel a bit cynical about the relentlessly upbeat take on sexuality--in this medieval world apparently without unwanted pregnancies (if you're D'Angeline) or STDs and where your sig other only smiles at the idea of you falling in love--and into bed--with the next pretty thing of either sex to come along. And your personal god(less) blesses it all. Fantasy indeed.