As a peasant girl, Green is sold by her father to become a courtesan in a far-off land. The opening is fantastic--lots of sensory details and thoughful world-building--and Green's courtesan training is earthy and believable. But once she leaves the walls of her training courtyard behind, the story breaks down. The plot meanders and circles, and Green's motivations are confused and often contradictory. (Mere pages after declaring that her mission in life is to prevent child-slavery, she angrily declares she doesn't care about saving anyone. One moment she can't wait to free her city--the next she's asking what's in it for her. She's young, but no person changes their mind so drastically, so often.) I don't really buy the conception of gender essentialism and sexuality that underpins much of this book. The ending is anticlimactic and awful. I'm giving this a few stars because the first half was enjoyable and the writing style pretty good. But Lake should learn how to write a *novel* before he attempts another one.