I agree with the reader who similarly made the error of starting in the middle. I've spoken to another who started at the beginning and with, so far, superior results. If you attempt to read this book before the first, you aren't really indoctrinated into the fantasy nature of the work, and hence try to interpret it in a real-world mindset. I kept wondering about the economics of feeding all these slaves - what on earth were the villagers getting out of it all, why didn't they just put the slaves to work in garment factories, blah blah blah --- completely missing the point. If you are going to read this book, do yourself the favour of reading the prequel first.