This is an engrossing story. It’s scope is epic. In fact, the big reveal, I guessed would come, didn’t show up in the first book at all. Like other epic fantasies, it progresses the story using multiple perspectives: using several interesting characters.
What stops it from being great are a few aspects.
While all the characters are fleshed out and some, like Iskara, are very well thought out, I couldn’t find any that I cared all that much about.
The author depends too much on telling us exactly what each character is feeling rather than leaving stuff to imagination.
Some content is repetitive - especially in the action sequences. For instance, every character has at least one fight where they “cannot breathe”.
Almost every character goes through a lot of predictable and annoying phases of self-doubt. These don’t add to the story at all.
The romance is both: a bit forced and predictable. Again, I prefer romance where you, the reader, sees hints about a blossoming romance than are told “X looked at Y with longing”.
No one important dies - perhaps this is because authors invest too much effort into a character and don't want to kill any of them off but this makes the book predictable. Regardless of how dangerous the situation, you don't feel any tension.
All this criticism aside, I did pick up the second book as soon as I finished the first and find myself reading late into the night: testimony to the fact that I am enjoying both books.