Not as strong as the first book. Too many sub plots and minor characters get introduced but never go anywhere or get extremely short shrift, so theres never any sense of tension with anything involving them. The main characters seem to have character developed backwards, and are shallower ad less layered than in the Cardinals Blades too. Still a fun adventure read, (Plots! Schemes! Treachery! Swordfights! Rooftop chases!) but feels rather distant and unengaging in terms of plot and character.