I took a three year break in the middle of reading this. It's ridiculously over-the-top, in a lot of ways--the prose, the characters' melodrama with each other, the death count (seriously, the death count)--and I found it easy to set aside, but once I actually had it in my hands again the pages flew by. Sometimes, you're just in the mood to read about awful people doing awful things. Or at least I am. And I was intrigued by how the protagonist's gender identity was handled.
I'm not sure I'll read the sequel; I haven't heard great things about it, even by people who liked this book. But I'd probably give it a shot if I stumbled over a copy.