The first thing I have to say about this book is that Michelle's world building is amazing. Her description of the Haanta, a proud race of giants, and their lands is so vivid and detailed. While reading, I almost felt I was walking along beside the characters. Like I said, the Haanta are a proud race and can be very stern and austere. Their customs are quite constraining and rigid, down to the way they live and the food they eat. When Rautu, a captive of the Frewyn, is enlisted by Commander Boudicca MacDaede to fight along side her in the war, it is very hard for her to win him over. But despite his outward view of women as warriors (not their place and all that chauvinistic viewpoint), we find him secretly admiring the Commander and a budding romance ensues, although Rautu tries to fight his feelings with all his might. An interesting aside, you know the old adage, "food is the way to a man's heart," well, as Rautu is accustomed to very bland fare, I think the Commander wins him over in a small way with her delicious pork and chocolate. He loves both so much that he greedily stockpiles it for himself. Too funny!Michelle's books have been touted as romance, but I didn't really feel that it was the main focus. Yes, sure there is a romance between Boudicca and Rautu. However, what I also gleaned from the story was a message of justice, that perhaps the Haanta could learn more humane practices from the Frewyn. The Haanta seemed to be an intolerant people, especially in their treatment of their mages, many who are mere children. I think that the developing relationship between the Commander and Rautu, of Rautu becoming more tolerant of her and the customs of her land, it a parallel to a future tolerance among the Haanta. I guess I will have to read the rest of the books to find out.Michelle has definitely written an intricate fantasy novel. Despite some instances of words being overused (simpered comes to mind), it is well-written in its descriptive prose and I enjoyed it.