I knew Rachel Hartman's work way back when she was writing and drawing excellent comics. Comics based in a near-enough-to-truth fantasy world that - it goes without saying - they were real enough to inhabit and fully enjoy. I will admit I was a little surprised that she went the prose-fantasty-fiction route, but am I really? I mean, comics work barely pays the rent. And she is way more than good enough for this new format.
It's insulting to Hartman for me to say I'm also surprised at the quality of this book. I mean, if anyone, I should know better, having enjoyed her comics. So I'll put that in context. It's safe for me to say that I read a lot of fantasy and this creation ranks among the top 20 of those I have ever read. That's how excellent her craft is.
She builds us a dragon world, but nothing pretty and fluffy like that of Pern - something gritty, real and as detailed as anything Sanderson would write. Her characters are believeable, lovable, heartbreakable, and all as intriguing as the next one. So is the world she built and the plot she built around the world. The only thing I was slightly disappointed about was the ending - and you'll see what I mean when you get there.
No surprise - she is planning a next book (I would sure hope so based on how she left us!). It'll be right up there for me with waiting eagerly for the next Sanderson book. (And heck, it won't take as long to get through. Bonus.)