I was disappointed with this book, but possibly it's because I have this reaction to a lot of fantasy, that it's not made real enough to satisfy me. I had looked forward to understanding more of the whys of this world and its social setup. I want to know what malices are, and how they're related to Lakewalkers, and how they're both related to farmers, how it all came about on a planet which if it isn't Earth definitely has an uncanny resemblance to it in its fauna, flora, and even technology, diseases, tools, etc. Maybe I just don't get the assumptions of this genre or something. The story was fine. It came to a nice resolution. But the world was left completely unexplained, and that bugged me. I had thought it would all make a lot more sense in the end, I guess.
Fantasy I like: I absolutely love Tolkien. I love Ursula K. LeGuin's Earthsea series. I love Octavia Butler's fantasy stuff, like that Vampire novel Fledgling, or the slavery one Kindred. It's fantasy but it makes sense.
Fantasy I enjoyed but thought was mediocre: All the dragonriders of Pern stuff by Anne McCaffery, the Liveship Traders series by Robin Hobb, this series.
Fantasy I've thought was really poor: Sherri Tepper, Animal Farm, any of those dystopia type warnings that are didactic in nature. In fact, I loathe didacticism in books that label themselves as stories.
I enjoy Bujold's Vorkosigan books, though they're pretty lightweight for the most part, so I thought I would like this too. I can't say it wasn't entertaining for the most part, but I found it ultimately unsatisfying.
An update because I reread this series recently, though I'm not sure why. I really enjoyed the relationship between Dag and Fawn this time through, and the way they treated each other. I liked how Dag took on and fostered these very annoying (in some cases) young people and helped them grow up well. I thought the building up of the group over time was really good, really meaty and true. I loved how real was the way their families treated them to start with, and how they built themselves a new family together that had a lot more respect and joy in it. So I added one star for that reason.