This is the kind of fantasy novel I enjoy, exciting action with interesting characters.With many of Dave Duncan's books, I don't like the beginning, but after the first chapter or two, the story really takes off. This was the case here, too. The beginning is an infodump of names, genealogy, world-building, history etc. Basically, the whole fantasy world is explained before the story starts. That's tedious. I would prefer to read story straight away instead of wading through a morass of information.But later it got much better, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.The world Dave Duncan invented for this book (women and men have different paranormal talents; only women are permitted in rulership positions; men have to prove their worth in paranormal sports contests) is intriguing and plausible. World-building is one of Dave Duncan's strengths.I believe this book will appeal especially to readers who enjoyed the "Seventh Sword" series by the same author. Just don't let the tedious beginning put you off.