This was the first book in C.S. Friedman's Magisters Trilogy. The Magisters setting is a world in which magic can be practiced only at the cost of minutes of life. Witches burn through their own life ("soulfire") to do magic, while Magisters possess a more mysterious source for their power. The story follows, among others, a girl named Kamala who wants to be powerful despite her traumatizing upbringing and inherent limitations. Other characters' story lines diverge and collide with hers throughout the book as Kamala figures out her power.
I originally read this book in college. It was recommended by a friend and was the first C.S. Friedman book I read. I had to read it again recently since I had forgotten too many details to properly enjoy the next book in the series (Wings of Wrath). I feel like I got more out of the book the second time. My original recollections about the book were that it was pretty much about Kamala and her adventures. On the second reading, the other plot lines seemed more relevant and the story that appears to be the focus of the entire series seemed to be more of the book's point.
Either way, it's a great story! C.S. Friedman's writing is almost always on the darkest edge of what I chose to read, as far as sex and violence, but she writes so well that it doesn't bother me. Her books tend to have memorable antiheroes. There are rarely characters that are simply good guys or bad guys. Almost all the characters in each of her books are flawed, but still have intentions and motivations you can relate to to some extent, and Feast of Souls is no exception. The main character is very, very flawed but still someone you will want to see come out ahead.
I am currently reading the second Magisters book, and the third one is anticipated for May 2011, but I don't hesitate to recommend this series to fantasy enthusiasts! All of C.S. Friedman's books are definitely worth checking out, and the Magisters Trilogy promises to be her most solid story yet. If you like interesting settings, complicated characters, and exciting adventure I can't recommend this series enough.