There are a number of reviews here and elsewhere written by people who apparently loved this book. Now, I have a very eclectic taste in authors, and generally speaking I enjoy most books I pick up. With that in mind, I had heard this author's name before in lists of "must-read" fantasy books, so when I saw a hardcover copy at my local bookstore, I took it home that same day. I have to say I was gravely disappointed. Some of the themes had an interesting premise, but 90% of the time it felt like I had read it before (and better) in a Robert E. Howard story. I'm trying to find a way to put this delicately, but when you come across as ham-fisted, cliche, and bland compared to a pulp author (even a good one), that's really not a good sign. There's a phenomenon with good authors where their characters develop a life of their own and sometimes take the story in a different direction than the author perhaps expected; this book was not a good example. There are stories that are alive and real, and there are also stories that are meant to resemble the first type, and this is unfortunately the latter.
To be completely fair, I was not at all aware that this was part of a series when I first read it. Some of the stranger plot devices make a little more sense in this light, but some of them are still just out there. I may have to try some of the Elric books to see if this was some kind of fluke, because a lot of people seem to like this author. (Then again, I'm having some serious issues attempting to read Gormenghast...)