A non-negotiable prerequisite for me when it comes to enjoying literary fantasy is a sense of thorough worldbuilding. A well-crafted otherland is more than a proscenium - it's a sandbox to which the author extends an invitation, allowing the reader to become complicit in its construction (even if only in our own imaginations.)
With SEVEN SHARDS: THE COLORS OF WINE, C. Brennecke has delivered a setting that transcends mere backstory: her seven warring cultures (the "colors" of the title) are a vital driver of the plot, informing the motivations, behaviors and even nuances of her characters. Lush descriptions incorporating scents, tastes, and odd details ("poetry bars") breathe life into the setting, giving evidence that Brennecke has developed the setting well beyond what is evident in her excerpts (credit perhaps her background in tabletop gaming?) The effort pays big dividends in terms of the immersiveness of the locales, the believability of the characters, and indeed in the confident assurance of this impressive new writer.
I for one have already voiced my approval via my preorder and will be waiting with bated breath for the opportunity to delve more fully into Rhydia's mysteries.