I was pleased to find this book written much better in comparison to Graceling (I skipped Fire). There was much more detail and more depth to the characters, though i felt Cashore could still have improved on that.
The book started off great but dragged in the middle and seemed to linger on some more boring events. The ending revealed the answers to all the mysteries built up in the book but i thought it would have kept the story more interesting if she had slowly revealed some answers during those chapters that dragged on.
Another thing was that it got confusing at times, with too much going on at once. I lost track of who was where, and what they were doing.
Overall, great storyline. I enjoyed the mystery surrounding her advisors and the odd bits and pieces that got you thinking. I also liked that she added some themes such as PTSD and depression that allowed you to empathise and understand the characters and their suffering. Too many people can't relate and therefore, understand these disorders so i appreciate efforts like these.
Her execution from midway on to the end of the book was shaky, so even though i want to rate it higher, simply for the storyline, i can't give it 4 stars. It gets a 3.5/5 from me.
I believe in Cashore's writing- its shown a huge improvement so i'll definitely be keeping an eye out for more. Her ideas have already shown her to be a very creative and original author.