I found The Winds of Khalakavo to be an enjoyable read in spite of not *quite* pulling things together as an epic fantasy. The author has a real talent for prose. The culture(s) are well crafted, though a little more history explaining the rifts between the three factions could have gone a long way toward establishing empathy between the reader and any of the causes. I thoroughly enjoyed the Russian flavor, the flying ships, the confusing tension between Nikandr and his best friend. Still, it seemed like the emotions of the characters were kept at a slight, polite distance from the reader, making the whole less... personal. The magic system is clearly deep and, for the most part, easy enough to follow. However, there are things that are not explained adequately -- the depths and reasons for Nasim's 'disconnect' from the world; his connection with Nikandr; Ashan's purpose; the appearance of critical magical gems; the reasons why or how certain characters are suddenly exceptional to what is established.
And *still* this book offers surprises, clever insights, sharp prose, and an abundance of imaginative detail. I look forward to reading more from Mr. Beaulieu in the future.