I didn't like the Circle of Magic books as a teen, so I'm not sure why I thought I'd like the Circle Opens as an adult. It was a fast read, at least. Emelan has just never felt as real to me as Tortall, for all that its worldbuilding is probably technically better. It feels constructed; Tortall may be weird and patchwork, but it's definitely from the heart.
Oh, but about the book. Meh. Stuff happened, largely to people I didn't care about. There was an inkling of interesting backstory to the villain, but it was never explored. I won't bother with the rest of the series.