I really struggled with the rating for this book. I have my own little criteria for how many stars I give to books, but I wanted to add 1 to this book - because it was free. But, in the end, I had to be true to my system. I was able to put down this book - the action frequently lulled - but I sure wanted to return to spend time with this little band of characters.
The heroine, Amaranthe, is quite unlike your typical heroine. She is not snarky. She does not kick butt. She is just honorable. And true. And decent. And, by just being who she is, she pulls in people to work around her and with her. And, oh, the characters with which she surrounds herself. Quite the merry little band she has gathered. The author also makes a little twist on the popular "thief" artifice because Amaranthe is forced to perform her deeds not while working for the enforcers, but by working more in the underground.
I know many have classified this as steampunk. The author herself dumps it into many classifications and calls it a mash up. To me, this book was just fantasy. It had elements of other genres, but, in the end, it is simply fantasy.
I really enjoyed the banter. It certainly was not constant, but happened very subtly in appropriate instances. Many times, I went back and re-read because I felt, "Did I read that right?" A couple times, I even laughed out loud. I suspect, as the characters are even more fully fleshed out in later volumes, it will happen more frequently.
I really, REALLY enjoyed this book. I am now fighting with myself over whether or not to start on the next one in the series. The battle wages not because I do not know whether or not I want to READ the next, but because I fear that I will get to the end of Book 5 and have a cliff hangar or other such nonsense that is so prevalent in fantasy today. I do really want to spend more time with this motley crew.