I'm going to be completely honest and say that I didn't like this book for at least the first half of it. I don't mind admitting that I bought it on the strength of Juliet Marillier's review on the back of it. Marius was a thoroughly unlikable protagonist. He was selfish, amoral, seedy, and really the worst kind of weasel there was. I did like how clever he was, but it wasn't enough.
The only way I managed to slog through the first half was imagining him as Mark Sheppard, and surprisingly it worked. I made it all the way to the end, and Lee Battersby miraculously managed to reverse my opinion completely. It started when Marius met King Nandus at the bottom of the ocean and progressed steadily from there. Marius stopped being a disreputable scoundrel and finally became a character I will fondly remember.
One thing I also really liked about him was that he was obviously a history nut -- the book is laced with many little anecdotes of the history of Scorby, and this is the segue I will use to shamelessly flatter Lee Battersby's world-building skills. Marius travels the length and breadth of what feels like a thoroughly lived-in world, with colorful histories and breathtaking views. The prose is fantastic and the dialogue snappy and humorous, which is also partly what kept me going when Marius was an awful human being.
I wouldn't say that this book is a delight to read, but if you're looking for a clever book with the most anti- of anti-heroes to make you occasionally laugh out loud, this is probably it.