This is part of a series, and it would probably be best to have read at least a few of the earlier books before jumping in with both feet.
I only skimmed the book, but the author's descriptions were so clear you felt as though you were standing right there with the characters-- and you start caring about those characters at once.
Previous titles in the Atlan Saga are:
From back cover:
Cija, daughter of peril, plaything of destiny... is once again off on an adventure of endless wonder... carried off to a distand land where Zerd, the dragon general, girds himself for battle with the King of the North. She's thrust into a journey of mystery and magic with her daughter Seka. She struggles to escape the dangerous people of Soursere, finally setting out upon the Floating Isles for the enchanted shores of Atlan.