The book is hardly a novel and more a novella, in part because it isn't meant to be read alone but as a whole in a series of thirteen. So you can get away with the shortness of it. Because of the nature of the series it focuses on the viewpoint (for the most part) of two of the Toreador clan and because of this there is a slight bogged down over indulgence in the appreciation of art and the symbolism around it, but what did you expect from a clan of vampires who pride themselves on appreciation of such things. Reading this book cannot be taken alone however and the larger events covered you only get a sliver of understanding, which hopefully is expanded in the other books but given you aren't as focused on order of events & more trying to be character driven, and it's not that strong as there isn't much time to know the characters. Hopefully as the other perspectives come into focus (by reading their books) it will make a larger sense of the machinations involved, and the characters involved get more fleshed out being seen by others. The compilation books I understand give more of a backstory and being more chronological you can see the characters as pieces from a grander perspective being moved around. But I worried I would be lost in trying to keep track of everyone involved so I felt this might be a better way to read the books. Later Ill do the compilations to focus more on order of events as opposed to characters.
Side Note: There is a constant reference to the events in the Trilogy of the Blood Curse but it is not really that important to this story beyond knowing it happened.