I read these books as a teen and was enthralled by the quick pacing and epic scale of the trilogy. Since then, I've realized that it's a Tolkien knockoff--with many more women and girls and without the all-important quest to destroy an evil object, but otherwise a lot of similarities. Still, these are fun books: the main characters are likable and they're not all the same old stereotypes (the hero's young niece plays a major role, for instance... and speaking of the hero, it's nice to read a fantasy where the protagonist is neither the illegitimate child of someone important, nor secretly the heir to a kingdom). There's plenty of action and some good epic battles, the romance is sweet and the world is fairly interesting. The continent on which the action takes place is divided into three lands--human, faerie, and evil--determined by what sorts of liquids flow in their rivers. Unfortunately, this leads to some bizarre logical errors: for instance, when evil minions invade, they dam the rivers to cut off the flow of water. That's right, cut it off completely. Every dam I've ever seen has had a river coming out of it, but not so in Niles's world, where it disappears or something.
Overall, I would say this book works well as light fantasy--I don't mean that no one dies, but that it's a good romp that we're not meant to think about too hard. I'd recommend it for teens and for those looking for fun, simple fantasy books. It gets four stars because, although it has its flaws, it was great entertainment and left me with a happy feeling inside.