This novel reached out and grabbed hold of me and didn't let go until the end. It's an exploration of individual choices, mistakes, and cruelties on a background of war and revolution. The individual characters are complex and compelling, if not quite sympathetic. Before I started it, I knew a little about the history that forms the background, and I was afraid that it would be unbearably dark. It was more human and lyrical than I had expected -- that's not to say it's light... definitely not easy subject matter. But I really enjoyed it and would recommend it.