This is definitely epic fantasy in the most original sense.It's definitely a slow burn, moving at a leisurely pace. At times, it seems too long or too slow, but it fits with the story and it works. You move past the slow bits and it's fine. Plenty still happens, just at a slower pace than we're used to.The characters are truly incredible. Alera develops so much and she deals with so much crap. I loved how she tried to handle all the conflicts in her life as well as she could, but she wasn't perfect. And all the other characters were so fleshed out. Anytime something bag happened or there was a chance something bad would happen, I was pretty upset. None of them are perfect and they all have their issues, but even the worst of them isn't so bad.The ending was interesting. Very interesting. Twisty and turny and wonderful. Sad but very fitting. I'm not really sure how book three will work considering how it ended though.This is a really good continuation with a lot of action and dynamic relationships and interesting characters. I really enjoyed it. It didn't blow my mind, but it was a good follow up and part of a really good high fantasy series. I strongly recommend this to anyone who loves their fantasy.