Like most Bujold, this was a fast interesting read. She grabbed my attention with the viewpoint character, Fawn, who was likable and quickly made me care what happened to her. The world/society/setting seems underdeveloped, but that probably comes clearer in the rest of the series. Also, when it comes to fantasy, I really like Tolkien, and everyone else seems to fall short in the world development area, naturally. In other words, she didn't invent 14 languages yet for this universe.
Bujold is always a lot of fun, though. Again and again she made me laugh out loud while I was reading. I do enjoy reading her stuff immensely, though it doesn't seem to be a whole lot more than entertaining. A bit more.... just not a whole lot more.
One thing I thought was awesome was Dag's observation that it was just about as bad to be loved and not valued as it was to be valued and not loved, but certainly much better to be both. That was a cool thing for her to put into words. I've never been able to know how to say that about families, that being loved without being valued isn't really enough. Maybe that idea will help me not to repeat some of the things that are wrong with my own family in the new one I'm trying to make.
I loved the contrast between the farmer's culture and that of the lakewalkers. It highlights for me the differences in the new culture of the US (which seems more like that of the lakewalkers) and the traditional LDS type culture (which is more like that of the farmers.) In the former, women are valued more highly, and are considered to be suitable for leadership roles. All-in-all, I'd feel much more comfortable with the lakewalkers, though the farmers have their good points too.
To sum up, I really enjoyed this book and I recommend it, though nothing terribly important is going on in it. It does give some food for thought, and has some good insights. I will definitely read the rest of the series.