I think on some spiritual level, even though this wasn't published until I was an adult, I feel like I read and loved this as a young teen. Reading it now felt like wrapping myself in the coziest blanket of imaginary nostaliga. I stayed up late reading this and read it instead of doing other things I needed to do. It's been a very long time since I have felt this immersed in a world.
It reminded me a little of The Goblin Emperor in its depth of humanity, and its portrayal of cruelty that doesn't make light of it, and, weirdly, I feel like there's some backstory parallels with Gideon the Ninth, although it couldn't be more differently tonally.
There were times were I did find it a little moralizing, and when the writing rang a bit off, but I loved it very much and if you don't like it I don't want to hear about it because it's been retrconned into my cherished childhood lore.