The nature documentary at the beginning was unnecessary. Some of the slow parts in the middle could have been picked up. A few of the characters annoyed me. Yet I liked it, for the last few chapters if nothing else; looking back on it as a whole leaves me with a favorable impression.
If you get tired of dragons and farm-boy heroes in your fantasy (not that I don't read more than my fair share of those), give this a try. You might be pleasantly surprised.