Tastes like chicken: The Black Rose/Shadows Linger?
What I liked: For fantasy, the characters were non-standard. The wizard, for example, was described as portly.
What I hated: The author didn't seem to have much use for women in his world. There were three of note -- a prostitute with a heart of gold, the 61-year-old dowager empress (I forget her title) who is particularly despicable because she's always dressed as a vampire serpent queen geriatric skank, and a concubine who, though mentioned on the back cover, turns up about 80% through the book seemingly solely to fall in love with the guy everyone else falls in love with (man or woman). I don't need a Xena in every story, but a woman who, I don't know, uses her wiles rather than just being a carry-along victim would be nice.
What I can steal: Well, the psychology of the world was neat -- the religion/magic standoff/war, and there were some interesting characters. I got little sense of place, though.