It definitely had a slow start, although that's probably because I was out of reading books at the time (which lasted for) about 6-7 years, and i'd read the first few chapters a few times :)
I noticed a lot of similarities to the Lord of the Rings especially in the beginning with The Two Rivers, the fades on horseback, the escape across the ferry, the stay at the inn in the first big city etc... It was pretty gripping in the second half when things kicked off. I'm just wondering how things will turn out to make it last for 13 more books :D
I assume that I should read New Spring much later on (in publish order?) What about "The Strike at Shayol Ghul?"