Why am I reading this silly fantasy anyway? Besides having a main character named 'ill' whose middle name is Et and who's looking for the reincarnaton of his BFF Mueller, it has a fortress called Rough Sea and an antagonist called Raguta whom I keep thinking of as Rakuda (ie camel); and another villain with a face like a fish, and an author who keeps telling me that he has a face like a fish. ('A sinister smile played across his fish-like face,' 'the pale blue eyes narrowed in the fish-like face', 'beneath the curling chestnut hair the fish-like face beamed with easy goodwill'.) I could be reading fanfic, and the fanfic would probably read better.
But oh hell. I'm reading it to have it read because it's been on the shelf for over a dozen years and it's easier than Twelve Kingdoms and ultimately a lot more fun. As in, it has an okama who was raised as a girl and who still wears nailpolish and mascara (or otherworld equivalents) though he won't be caught dead in a dress again except he might be caught dead if he doesn't act the female he officially is on the rolls etc etc. Alas, he has a thing for The Camel, and Young Brainless is properly masculinely disgusted at a guy who wears ewww girl cooties! make-up. (Need I say that Young Brainless is only too obviously Mueller reborn?)
But it's still taking much too long.