I think I would have enjoyed this more if I had read it over a shorter period of time. There were things right with this, but there were also a good deal of things wrong with it as well... I think I can forgive those things for the most part, though, since this is a first novel in a series. They're the toughest it seems.
The world is interesting and I love the whole bit with the emperor, that was clever and definitely poses a number of questions. I'm a bit confused about the world as a whole after reading this, but I think it'll come together more in later books. I enjoyed a good chunk of the characters and hope to see them developed further.
Overall it was a good start to a series. It was. It just wasn't spectacular. I don't mean to make people not want to read this book, you should, but just don't have huge expectations. See, I don't even like saying that. It sounds like a bunch of jackassery. Just read the thing and decide if you like it.