This is an amazing piece of fiction (especially considering it was originally written for NaNoWriMo) that draws the reader in immediately from the first page and keeps you hooked to the last. The characters are all fully formed, with motivations and histories of their own. There's the Chief, a stern ruler who will not bend the rules for anyone, even his own son, and expects everyone to adhere completely to the law, however unjust those laws may be. There's the heir, who may not like some of the laws but is determined to follow in his father's footsteps and keep their polis the best in all the lands. There's the wizard, a cold and calculating man hiding his intentions behind a mask of loyalty. There's the slave, removed from his time through a process called Statis, doing his best to adjust to a new world he can only catch of glimpse of through his window. And there's of course Ennek, the protagonist, the younger son of the chief, who is expected to only be pretty and is known for his drunkenness and gambling. This is about his awakening from a sheltered boy into a man with his own convictions, ambitions and desires. His journey is engaging and at times appears to be hopeless as he's still struggling to think of himself as someone who matters.
There is a lot of attention to detail and if I have one nitpick, it's that the book could have used a little more. I'm assuming this world is supposed to be modeled after the mid- to late-1800s. They have indoor plumbing with apparently instant hot water and flushing toilets (probably only the upper classes enjoy this technology), electricity and rubber balloons, but not cars and Ennek's treadmill is described as an "ingenious contraption". The clothes are more modern than I had first assumed, as is much of the language, but most of that can fit into the 1800-era model also, along with their slave society and prudish morals. The problem though is that I'm assuming this. I would assume one thing and a couple of pages later the author would drop in a detail that made me readjust that assumption. I'm not expecting Tolkien-level of detail, but even a couple more pages at the start devoted to describing this world would have given the reader a firmer grasp of what this world looked like as the story unfolded.
Hopefully, we'll get more of those details in the next book which I most certainly am looking forward to.