Definitely a strong foundation for the continuing story, but all of that made it a bit slow to start. We're following the lives of the Emperor's three children, one at the heart of his empire, one training on remote islands to become an elite warrior, and his heir sequestered away living as a monk in inhospitable mountains. There's a lot of plot to get rolling, their stories may be ultimately intertwined, and all connected by their father and his death, but they're living completely separate lives.
Rich world building and history, well populated with different ways of life.
At the start of the book I wasn't sure if I'd finish. By the end I was looking forward to its sequel.