It's a weird feeling having read this book before almost everyone else, but I'm having a hard time quantifying my feelings about it. This book feels like more a beginning than anything else, which makes sense as there are four more books in the series, the next, Canticle, to be published in October 2009. I almost feel like I should reserve judgment until I've read all five, but that's impossible. I might change my rating once I know the end of they story.
What I can say about the book is that, while a little confusing at times, it never stops moving and I can feel a definite end in sight. Scholes trusts his readers to put the pieces together, and the world that he creates is one full of this weird syncretism of magic, ancient science, religion and mysticism. And while I felt jarred by the format of the book (each chapter is split into multiple view points), it also made for an extremely quick read. There is definitely some usage of fantasy tropes, but there is also enough originality to make up for it, I think. Definitely worth checking out. I think this guy is going places.
(P.S. He's also really nice. I contacted him and he emailed me back! Of course, that's probably because he isn't famous yet.)