I had mixed feeling about this series as a whole, starting with this book. On the positive side, the characters were complex and well-written - even those with the most dark and twisted natures weren't seen as entirely evil, but merely flawed in major ways, while those with the best of intentions weren't lily-white either. The religious undertones, though, struck me as less of an athiests point of view than your typical angry ex-Christian - one who was more angry at God than entirely unbelieving as one. The bitterness grew in this book, and came to a full head towards the end. Stylistically, it was extremely well done - descriptive and engaging enough in the first book to compel me to finish the series, even when I was disagreeing with it's message.
Philisophically, though, I found it overwhelmingly preachy and overly-bitter, unable to keep the writers own bias regarding religions as a whole from clouding an otherwise wonderfully crafted tale.
I LOVED the first two books in the series. The Subtle Knife (2) ends in such a way that you have to keep reading the 3rd! But I almost wish I hadn't started the series because the only way to end it was with this book. It was literally the ending (last 50 or so pages) that destroyed the whole series for me. I felt bitter and betrayed, why had I decided to get so attached to these characters if it would end like that?! If maybe you can find a way to read this and be ok with stopping once you get that feeling in your gut that it is going in a direction that you don't like, then for sure read it! The beginning is still way interesting and attention grabbing, it's just the end. Oh the end.