I rather liked this. I suspect it's a marmite book though. Hence this being more of an anti-review than a review. I also suspect I will come back to this once I've read further down the series.
On the surface it's a typical fantasy saga starter - young boy of modest means, goes on a quest to save the world, kind of thing. Except it's made pretty clear that isn't what's happening at all. Lerris is not of modest means, he's not going on a quest by choice, it's exile, and his task is less to save the world, than to figure out how to not be a nitwit and ruin it all with the great power he might be able to wield, if he ever learns how. And so with a modicum of training (but not all that much, relatively) he is set adrift.
Specifics then: Lots of the things that other reviewers complain about didn't bother me, or even were my favourite bits.
The pace (or lack of, in places) was fine for me. I deeply appreciated the way Lerris figured out his own abilities, and how to finish his quest Lerris was very young - but smart. The idea that given time, enough clues, and left to his own devices, things would "click" did not at all surprise me, that's how my brain works, and how one of my daughters does too. She, in particular will ask all day long for answers to study questions - but I learnt long ago if I tell her the answer, and ask again tomorrow, she's forgotten. It makes her whine when I go all Socratic method on her, but then a half hour later when we're doing dishes or something else entirely, she'll suddenly say "Oh! I got it!" My other kids are not at all like this (despite which, they also got the Socratic treatment, because it's how *my* brain works, as mentioned.) I suspect she'd be very like Lerris, in the same situation, she would complain, be annoying as hell, procrastinate on reading the damn book - and then it would all go "click" for her one day and she'd see through it all.
Initially the tendency to describe surroundings (particularly furniture) seemed to drag, but after a while, and once I came to understand the magic system in place here, it actually became not just useful, but enjoyable. It was like I was learning to see things through Lerris eyes, in some small way.
The onomatopoeia - didn't bother me. I only even noticed it from Gairloch, who at several points in the story was my favourite character anyway, so it's only fitting he should get dialogue. Of a kind.
The First/Third person switching (Lerris adventures are told in first person, anything he's not around for in omniscient third): I liked it! I am so tired of the multiple POV character style that seems trendy these days, and having to spend the first paragraph of every chapter trying to figure out who's telling me the story now. It was a tiny bit jarring the first instance, but only because I wasn't ready for it, by the second I knew what was happening.
There's really not much more to say - this is book 1 of a series that has so far reached 18 books, yet it's actually the second to last, chronologically. That's a little disconcerting (I'm almost tempted to skip the next book, which is the last book chronologically, and start reading the history until I get back to here.)