3.5 stars. Certainly feels dated, but then it's a precursor to a lot of stuff that is derivative so reading it this late in the game is a bit unfair and hard to judge. I definitely see the LOTR influences throughout. And pacing was a bit long, especially in the first half. Didn't really feel like it got going until halfway. Still, it ended well, and had some nice action and an attractive cast of characters. I can see why people like the universe, but seeing that these characters are not the focus of follow up books makes me a bit hesitant to launch into any more at this time. I will eventually. Glad I read it, but it's definitely no LOTR. I certainly admire Terry, however, and plan to read more of his work.