I must admit, I'm a sucker for stories about mages, thieves, and assassins. Throw one in a story, and you're almost guaranteed to make me enjoy reading the book.
So naturally, I adored the assassin. Enough so that I'm going to go get the rest of these. Right now.
The story did start off kind of slow, though. It took its time building up to a pace that didn't confuse you, or put you to sleep. There's also a lot of back story you don't get until about halfway through the book, like why the previous queen was poisoned, and everybody just went on like it was no big deal.
This is also my second book this month that uses Golden Compass-like familiars.
By far, the best part of the book for me was finding out about Blade's past. Or any scene with Blade in it, really. But then, I already admitted I'm prejudiced.
I hate, hate, HATE the cliffhanger at the end. At least I don't have to wait for the sequel to come out.