On a re-read, this was bumped up to a full 5 stars.
I won’t ruin the rest of the series (because it takes quite a turn), but there’s an incredible amount of foreshadowing. Tiny details and encounters that will have larger implications in Forest Mage and Renegade’s Magic.
But this book works even if you’re reading it for the first time. Every character is fully fleshed out, and though it starts a bit slow, you soon won’t be able to put the book down.
Does this book wreck you emotionally? Of course, but isn’t that why we read Robin Hobb in the first place?
Recommended for veterans of this author. If you’re just starting out, I recommend Assassin’s Apprentice and then following the trilogies in published order from there. This is my least favourite series that Hobb has written, and it’s still a masterpiece.