Yeah it took me a while to read this book. I admit I started it in November, as I was starting NaNoWriMo (and if any of you have ever taken part in that month long literary self flagellation then you will know that the last thing most people want to do in that month is read lol). As such, effectively, I didn't really start reading it until December. Let me say I'm not gonna give much background here, I've already covered that here... Now on with the review!The first half of this book is very, very heavy. There are massive political tones to the storyline. Now this is the second book of a six tome series of High Fantasy by Jim Butcher (famous for his Urban Fantasy writing), and it is a gem in my opinion. I trudged through the heavy, yet intriguing, first half of the book. I even put it down for a bit to mull over the deeper political storylines, accurate to the politics of the roman basis for the Aleran people of the series. It even has everything a reader could want. There is a blossoming love story, political intrigue, deception, war, historical tactics and even zombies (kind of) in the form of a new enemy to this world, the Vord (a parasitic almost insectile creature that have no machinations other than destruction of the world .)Then a switch is flipped at the halfway point and a battle from four separate perspectives rages, from two separate locations in this lusciously crafted world. The prose flows smoothly, propelling the story along with the momentum of a boulder making it's way down the side of a mountain, starting slow then building up so much momentum that you can't help but be drawn in. Over the past 2 or 3 days I've read nearly 350 pages of a 628 page tome, that's how absorbing I found it. The story, whilst having the usual fantasy elements of beasts, magic and an almost medieval setting, doesn't really focus on the magic of the people. It puts across the idea that no matter what "tools" you have at hand, they are no substitute to a quick and intelligent mind. The development of the characters had me laughing and at one point very, very close to tears. I was powerfully moved by the emotional journey of the characters. Honestly I can't wait to dive into the next book of the series (despite how heavy they are politically) just to see the growth of the characters continue. All I can say really is, if you're a fan of High Fantasy then definitely look up the Codex Alera series. It has good world building, with minimal info dumping.