Where do I start with this book? There is so much that I would like to say about it. I guess I can start with the first thought that came to mind... Wow! This is one of the few fantasy books that I have ever read that completely engrossed me into its world. Calhoun paints a glorious picture of Avielle's world leaving very little unanswered. The reader understands their religion, their history, their customs.. you name it, Calhoun included it. This aspect is only one of many things that I loved about this book.The plot was paced well, but not too fast. For this story, this is not a bad thing since I believe that the reader needs to fully understand all aspects of what is going on this world. Avielle (I LOVE this name) is an interesting heroine. She has flaws, but you cannot help but love her. The other characters are wonderful, and add much to the story. The only character I did not fully understand was Edard. Calhoun gives the reader hints about his hatefulness, but never comes right out and explains it. I also would not have minded a bit a romance. The possibility is there for Avielle, but it is never explored.There are two things (three if you count the cover) that I absolutely loved about this book. First, was Avielle's world, which I already discussed. The other is how Calhoun dealt with racism and prejudice. Both issues are handled flawlessly, and leave the reader with a nice message. This would be a great book to use in middle/early high school classrooms to highlight those issues.The only question I have about the novel is: Where is the sequel??? The ending leads you to believe that there is much more to explore, and I really, really want to, but Calhoun has not written a sequel yet.This book is definitely going on my keepers list. It is well written, has a beautifully explored world, great characters, has a great underlying message for its readers. I honestly do not have any thing bad to say about it... except that there is no sequel in site (the book was published in 2006). If you decide to read this, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.