The villains are all deliciously evil and lead by the twisted Saint Azual. He has been a living Saint for hundreds of years and dreams of becoming a god in his own right. Over the course of the novel, his tenuous grip on sanity slips away and his acts become increasingly violent and unpredictable. Azual's rage knows no bounds and he will destroy anything that gets in his way. Unpleasant and brutal, he truly is a nasty piece of work.
By far the best character is a god named The Peculiar. He features in some of the novel's best moments. Mysterious and every so slightly smug about it you can't help but like him. Although you can't decide if The Peculiar is evil or good as he is the god of chaos. A couple of times you think he has been met his demise but every action has an ulterior motive and his are the destabilising of the empire.
All in all an excellent first novel.