It's the best thing up for the Graphic Hugo this year. It is very, very good. It is complete.
It is 800+ pages, but, as Josh said, that's about three days of reading. It reads fast.
It has strong, sympathetic characters and excellent world building.
It has strong female characters. Even better, the author wasn't consciously saying, "I shall put in Strong Female Characters." She just did. Oh, and "strong" means "strong" in every sense of the word.
It has strong male characters. There is no tired reversal of stereotypes. There are deliberate gender reversals, at least one of which is hilarious, but all the characters feel like real people of whatever species (wombat, human, and others), not like the author standing on a soap box and lecturing.
It has strong characters, period.
It has its roots deep in the well of a certain type of fantasy, building on what has come before, but remaining its own thing.
It has a good plot, and there are surprises.
It has a good consideration of ethical issues. These issues are not simplified. No punches are pulled. These issues are critical to the plot. I find that I like works with an ethical grounding.
Ethics are important to what happens. One of the things that is true about a lot of the fantasy I like is that the way the world works resonates with an emotional truth. Sometimes, this means that, while the world we live in may not work that way at all, there is a sense that it really ought to. Being a good person should matter, and in this kind of fantasy, it does. Good manners matter. In fact --
Goodness matters. Harold Feld and I have had conversations about how too many fantasy movies believe in iconic evil, but not iconic good. The counterexamples are sparkling jewels to be savored. It's why I liked the movie _Enchanted_. It's why I like Digger.
There is no Idiot Plotting, and no idiot philosophizing either. When the characters look at ethical issues, when they try to explain things, they do not make stupid errors that make this reader want to shake them until their teeth rattle. And, the author does not set up events so that what the characters do say, in all sincerity, trying to do their best, leads to comedic or tragic misapplication of ethical principles. The ethical choice I am thinking about had me reading with tears in my eyes, and it was a choice made with full knowledge of what was at stake, what was right, and what was wrong.
Good and bad choices both have consequences. And, a good choice may lead to good consequences that aren't necessarily happy consequences.
Situations are not simple -- but that doesn't mean one can't make a decision. Indeed, the characters must make choices.
Quiet moments can be as effective as action packed moments, and just as important. There's a roleplaying game called Dogs in the Vineyard, and it recognizes four arenas of conflict. One of these is Talking. Oh, my, yes. Certain moments from Babylon 5 and Angel come to mind here, moments where, regardless of how much action there was, what was being said was the most important thing.