Whew! Ok. So the 3 stars are specifically for the audiobook. Here's why:
While I enjoyed the reader...come to think of it, I probably would have stopped with another reader...this is not the kind of book I can listen to successfully. There's just too much going on, too many similar-sounding names, everyone and everything has at least two separate names and the whole thing was a cluster in my mind. I got lost so many times because I wasn't fully concentrating on the story, I kept getting one person confused with someone else, I couldn't figure out who had lost body parts or why, etc.
I have to say, though, even with all that, I liked this much better than I thought I would because, really, a book called "Blood's Pride" sounds like low-end D&D stuff, especially when you find out the title comes from the name of a sword in the story. I had low expectations as a result but because I loved the woman's face on the cover art, I listened anyway and I'm glad I did.
There were a few things that irritated me such as the mushy, matchy-matchy romances (everyone had to get together with his and her partners even if the relationships didn't last) and the sometimes-melodramatic monologues. I often found myself wondering how much of the story was based in Shakespeare. Other than that and the audiobook being the wrong format for my bewildered brain, though, I felt the story was well-written and mostly engaging.
If I continue with the series, I'm going to have to go back and read this on paper and then continue the series on paper because I'm not sure my mind could handle another three weeks of "Woah, wait, WHAT? How? Who? I don't understand!" *rewind & relisten*