- Well written, mainly.
- Fascinating magic system, and interesting world building
- bits set in university, with the education of a wizard are great. there are a lot of similarities with Harry Potter, which many will point out, but there are enough differences to keep it a very different book
- Lots of mystery: the author cleverly sets up a lot of mysteries, which keeps the pages turning. There is plenty of suspense and it is an engaging read.
- This book needs a good edit. Many incidents or story sections are repetitive - how many times will the character not have enough money for tuition and have to go and find money? How many times will he meet his lady love and just have a chat with her (more later)
- Framing story: the whole story is recounted in a pub by the main character in the first person. I don't think this framing adds much to the narrative, and just makes it longer and more difficult to get into.
- Poorly drawn characters: although NOTW is well written in general, many characters seem sketchy. Willem and Simmon are good examples. The masters in the university are better drawn. The physical descriptions are usually poor, or non-existent, and few characters have strong enough traits to be memorable.
- The love interest: creating a love interest and then putting off the characters getting together is a staple of most fictional genres. I don't think it has ever been spun out like this, and with such an unlikeable love interest. There are several identical chapters where the character looks for the boring, self-centred, but (yawn) incredibly beautiful Denna, finds her, they have a great chat, but once again, nothing happens. This quickly becomes boring, and I wish she would get killed off so we didn't have to read this.
Overall, I would recommend fans of Harry Potter, or fantasy genre to read the book. I think the sequel, which I am currently reading, compounds many of the weaknesses of the first book, so I may not make it until the third book.