The history is great. There's good character development, the reading is adequate, the book is generally well written... Yet, the majority of the book is spent focusing on making life as miserable as possible for the protagonists you care about. Imagine your sister being raped then locked in a dungeon. Now imagine reading a story about it. You would have to be a psychopath to enjoy it, and that is what this book is like.
Yes. History told balanced with fictional and entertaining characters
The build up and the development of the characters were great, however, their influence on the finale failed a bit. I think that keeps this book from becoming an all time classic.