I actually didn't like the novels, but I come from a long history of godawful fantasy novels and so seeing many of my most-hated cliches reborn there made me crawl under the bed in terror. The anime fared much more nicely in avoiding the same-old trite angst and lame story-building. (ie, OMG WINIA IS A MONGREL TIME TO WAAAAANGST, Shannon crossdressing every other chapter, etc etc etc) Not to mention the writing was kind of bad, but I think it was mostly just LOL TOKYOPOP translations.
The only thing I really disliked about the animu was the sudden drop of Cz at the end. After all the time they spent developing her, poof...?