Reading this book was very strange, because I liked the beginning a lot less than The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, and even though I knew everyone loved Oree, I was pretty indifferent to her. I also missed the main characters from the last book - I still think they didn't make nearly enough appearances here. So I read the first half of the book over the span of a few days, mostly waiting (and hoping) for cameos... Until the story and the characters really grew on me, and I finished the rest of the book in a couple of hours.
I ended up liking Shiny a lot more than I did at first, and Oree definitely won me over, though she's still not one of my favorites from the trilogy. The plot was engaging - I found myself really wondering how they'd get out of this bind or that over and over during the story, and I stopped feeling like I was just reading because I finally wanted to reach something that interested me.
The setting was really good - I love how everything that happened at the end of the last book had incredible repercussions in this one, and how people just deal with their whole world changing so completely. Whenever I study history, one of the most common reasons given for why something happened is "religion". I have always found it very difficult to understand why people would do so much in the name of somebody they had no way of seeing, and of whose existence they had no proof, and I think in many ways, this book was a good study of the ways religion and society affect each other. I loved how, even though these people's gods were very real, they still worshiped figments of their imaginations, to the point where they couldn't recognize their own god when they saw him And I loved the social commentary, as well - the good and bad things about having religion be so important in a society, how yeah, they were educated thanks to it, but they were educated in a way that would suit those in power best, and all those other, more spoiler-y things.
The gods themselves were great, too - I love all those pranks that Oree mentioned, and I love how, whenever she talked about them in the first couple of chapters, she sounded a lot more exasperated than afraid or worried, even though, well, super powerful immortals who are pretty hard to keep in check.
What really won me over about Shiny, though, was the way his guilt and his actions were handled - I know that feeling of being in a situation where you simply don't have any good, or even decent, options, and no matter what you do, things just get worse and worse, and you just know you what's happening isn't fixable, and I think it's something everyone else can relate to, too. At the same time, Shiny never forgot that what happened had been his fault, and that the choice that started it all was still his. And he could have - we see that by the end, Oree no longer blames him, but he still tries to find a way to fix what he did, and in what is, in my opinion, the best way to do it, too - by simply asking
the ones he had wronged most. I also love how this wasn't something he did immediately, because I find him being overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the damage caused to be very, very realistic. All in all - I loved the way his character was handled, it's just that I'm attracted far more to characters like Naha, which is also why it took me so long to warm up to him - I kept thinking "Yeah, sure, you suffered, but you made your family suffer a lot worse."