This book had me rapt. It was full of political intrigue and scheming, in a way that reminded me of the best aspects of A Game of Thrones (but honestly this series is more enjoyable). With all the world-building groundwork having been accomplished in the first book, this one can afford to be much faster-paced, and is all the better for it.
Much of this book revolves around the main characters' efforts to do the right thing (mostly struggle in support of the oppressed shafit, and against blind tribalism) when they live in a society filled with powerful people who want to thwart every such effort. King Ghassan is, like in the first book, ruthlessly tyrannical, but the forces conspiring against him are just as bad. It makes for compelling reading and I'm very keen to move on to the third book now, to see what happens next.