Be warned: when a friend recommends a book, I will read it. And I'll be honest about what I thought. (Sorry, friend!)
I definitely like series that are aimed for teen/young adult, but don't talk down so much that they're unpalatable for the adult community. This one does an excellent job of that. Our hero is flawed: recalcitrant, mysterious, annoying. Most kids books try to make heroes more than perfect, which is extraordinarily irritating. Why can't they be more like you and me?
However, the biggest problem with the book is that it. takes. forever. to. get. to. the. point. This hero of ours is supposed to be brilliant at thieving. So, can we please let him do some of that before we're more than halfway through the book? There are long, dull travel passages, lengthy stories about old gods, and lectures on geology and politics. Blurgh. How are the kids standing it? I kept zoning out every page or so.
This friend of mine was wise to tell me in advance that the first book is decent, but that the next two in the trilogy are far superior. Whew-- I'll go take those out of the library right away.