What made this book stand out for me, I must admit, was the portrayal of the relationship between Demnor, The Heir to the Flame and his Companion, Kelahnus. I'm a sucker for intimate and romantic relationships between men; it's what I like to read and it's what I like to write. Fiona Patton has created a word where gender doesn't matter, be it in love or in society. It's refreshing! This is the reason I gave this book 4 stars.As far as a good fantasy read goes, well, this book has a few problems in my opinion. For instance, the plethora of aristocratic titles. There are more than can be found in 4 Georgette Heyer novels, I swear. They got very confusing after the first few chapters, as the cast of characters continued to grow. The story itself, the plot, the action - I thought Fiona could have done so much more with it. Demnor coming to terms with his heritage, his familial relationships, his future could have been been explored more in depth for my taste. It all seemed slightly skimmed over. Of course, that may have made the book 800+ pages instead of the 542 that it is. *grin* I also thought that the conflict between Demnor and his sister, the Prince Quindara merited more attention. Indeed, I think many of the relationships between the characters needed more depth. And I would have liked to see more of the workings of The School of Companions, which is definitely more than just a training ground for courtesans. So, while I really did enjoy this book, I think it could have been made so much better; maybe buy making it two volumes?