I was an avid fantasy reader, focusing mostly on Dragonlance, when I recieved this book as a gift.
I put off reading it for a long time, and that was a mistake. This is one of the better Fantasy books I've ever read, and in fact I've read it 3 times.
I really can't explain the negative comments read here. This book was great. The culture, the characters, the world had enough depth to launch dozens of books. The characters are really the best part, they're very realistic and they're very multi-dimensional. Not a soul remains unchanged throughout the book.
On my list of Fantasy books I rank this up at the top along with Tolkein, Dave Duncan's Seventh Sword Trilogy, and Weis & Hickman's Dragonlance books.