Apart from the aforementioned drawbacks, I still found the overall story interesting, the pacing on target, and the secondary characters very well drawn.
From the back cover:
"In a family torn apart by poverty and violence, Hekat is no more than an unwanted mouth to feed, worth only a few coins from a passing trader. But Hekat is not born to be a slave. For her, a different path has been chosen. It is a path that will take her from stinking back alleys to the house of her god, from blood-drenched battlefields to the glittering palaces of Mijak."
I think I'll try Ms. Miller's MAGE books and see if I like them better. Have any of you read those? I'd be interested in your opinion. Also, your opinion of EMPRESS if you've read that too. Or heck, just make some recommendations - what's the last thing you read that you really enjoyed? I'm re-reading Christopher Moore's LAMB, because it's one of my favorites.