We have a handful of POV characters, who each get thrown into the fracas of a continent-spanning internecine scuffle, and ultimately wind up together. There are enough hinted-at machinations, and a few subtle (and not-so-subtle) nods to contemporaries in the slightly-skewed world of "the new weird," notably a humanoid tiger race that I recall meeting brethren and sistren of in Jay Lake's "Kalimpura" books.
The action builds slowly, stirred and stewing, bubbling up occasionally with a gout of steam and spice, rather than at the chaotic, slapdash pace of many; there is a steady hand on the tiller, mixing in menace and loss and romance and horror and frustration... it's easy to see why this is a trilogy, rather than a single, prodigious, Stephensonian doorstop (which isn't to say I would have minded a single, massive sheaf pages).
I'm looking forward to the second and third installments, and not merely because I glibly told Ms. Bear "This is a love note to horses and endurance athletics" (which are two things I am, respectively, indifferent to and avoidant of *laugh*).
Bear has her own amusing names for the world as she was creating it, but I called it "Nongolia," because of course I would. I spent a good bit of time navigating the world backwards, thinking east was west and vice versa, not through any fault of the narrative, but because it's a fluid enough space that coming unmoored is neither a boon nor a hindrance, and it was a savory, dreamlike escape from my workday for very pleasant lunch reading.
Four point two mis-matched moons (out of an original thirty-seven) out of five.