For the right audience, this is a 5 star book.
The plot is excellent. Doore builds a world in a barren wasteland of the dark ages which contains a few paranormal elements but mostly reflects historical fiction. The story twists and turns with action, intrigue, and emotion. The internal and external conflicts are both well developed and well resolved, with a satisfying and powerful ending. Included also is a message that plays perfectly within the storyline.
The writing is excellent. Except for the formatting, which is quite terrible (but forgiven as this is an ARC and not the final book), I rank the scene depiction, grammar and style very highly.
My only issue, which is unfortunately quite a big one, is that I failed to identify with the main character throughout most of the book. This made it painfully slow, as I was only able to read a chapter at a time. It felt like homework–until the end, when the pathways created throughout the first three quarters of the book all intertwined with a powerful conclusion.
I suspect the combination of slavery, Arabic customs, pansexuality, and the desert dwelling water restrictions, all of which are surely accurate depictions of life in this era, kept me from identifying. None of this is the fault of the writer, however.
With a strong plot, interesting writing style and excellent research, I can easily recommend this book. It’s an amazing read for the proper audience.