I had waited a long time for this series to begin. Now I learn that this is really the first half of what was to be a single book. I'm disappointed in that because Robin Hobb is great at world building and character development. She also has a very readable style. Reading this book was a pleasure after some of the recent books I've forced myself through.
But about this book: It has gotten panned by many reader/reviewers who have liked her previous books. They say there is no action and little story. They are right that it is quieter than the Liveship trilogy. But it's very big on character development. I enjoyed reading about people from effectively 2 different worlds becoming fellow travelers in a hostile "jungle" environment. I enjoyed reading about dragons that are less than they are expected to be. It is a story about flawed individuals and how they learn to work together with a subtle and unrecognized "villain" in their midst. The book doesn't build to a big cliffhanger since it is only half of a conceived single book. But I do look forward to reading the second half which comes out in a couple of months (the 2 halves out within about 6 months of each other). The goal of the travelers is to make it to a fabled city of the extinct (but maybe not extinct) Elderlings and home to all the previous great but gone dragons of this world. It is about recovering memories and unknown histories. It is about love and honor. It is about people (and dragons) with physical "defects" living full lives despite society's rules against it.
It is very readable, and I enjoyed every line. I recommend it if you can enjoy a lower level action but rich with description story.