The Briar King by Greg Keyes. 552 pages.
I actually read most of this book last year. At first I found it quite engaging - the world building is original and interesting and the characters are individuals with decided personalities and foibles. Then, for some reason, a few chapters from the end and in the middle of what was actually a fairly dramatic scene, I put the book down and didn't pick it up again until yesterday. I'm really not sure why - I seem to have just lost any impetus to read the book at that point.
The plot is an intricate one, involving the royal family of a country called Crotheny in a world which humans have won from another species which enslaved them centuries before. But to defeat their former masters they made use of a form of magic, which, it is prophesied, will eventually bring about their own destruction. And at the time this book is set it seems that forces are at work to bring that prophecy to fruition.
I've enjoyed all of Keyes' previous books that I've read - this one is set in a different world, but has his trademark cliffhangers and unlikely solutions, so I'm truly puzzled as to why I lost focus on this one. I think I'll need to get the sequel and see how I get on with that.