|No hyperbole - this is one of the best fantasy/science fiction books I've read. I say both genres because this book has a unique blending of the two that works really well here. The book is the well-deserved winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Fantasy Novel.
There's a fine mix of distinctive characters and races. At the core are the Eborans, a warrior race who have fought in eight previous wars against alien invaders, the Jure'lia. They are also feared by humans because in the last war, the Eighth Rain, their tree-god died. They were sustained by the sap of the tree but turned to human blood. Then they've been stricken with the scarlet flux, a deadly disease that is slowly aging and wiping out the Eboran race.
Tormalin the Oathless left Ebora and ended up working for archeologist Vintage De Grazon as she explores the wreckage left by the Jure'lia. She needs a bodyguard as these wrecks are invested with parasite spirits (RAFO). Meanwhile, fell-witches are born to humans, women who manifest winnow fire. These women are imprisoned in the Winnowry and Fell Noon has been there for ten years, taken as a child, and longs to escape. These are the three primary characters but they all have fascinating backgrounds and I loved how they grew as the book goes on. I can't wait to see what happens to them in the next book in the series.
The secondary characters are interesting also. There are some very unique and complex people in the book. Tor's sister is definitely morally gray and will bear watching.
What we learn about the Jure'lia world is also fascinating. As I said earlier in this review, I can't think of a fantasy book (maybe some of Mark Lawrence's books set in Abeth) that so successfully combines fantasy and science fiction. There are also some horror elements incorporated into the story. It's a melange of genres that work together to create an excellent world and people.
I'm diving right into the next book in the series. These are books that should be recommended more, so read them now.