The first half of this book I'd actually just give a 3-star rating, but when it picks up (and it really does), it's a solid four.
Most of everything I said in my review of the first book still holds -- except miraculously, the term "personage" has either vanished from Elliott's vocabulary (in which case, good riddance!) or I've become so used to reading it that it's stopped raising my red flags.
In addition, I'd like to say that Cat's characterization sort of fluctuated in the middle of the book for me -- specifically in her dealings with James Drake. I won't go into the particulars of what
she did, but the way she allowed him to walk all over her afterwards is something that I don't think Cat would have allowed, regardless of her circumstances. Still, she returns to the Cat we all know and love shortly afterwards.
My second complaint is that the political wheelings and dealings are a bit fuzzy for me. The nuances of who was betraying whom and having secret dealings with whom for whatever reason all just flew over my head, which is not entirely due to my struggle to remember the political climate. I feel it could have been laid out in a less convoluted way.
Still, the main attraction of this series for me is the characters. I love Cat, Vai and Bee. I love how Cat and Vai befriend the people of Expedition, and how Cat and Bee are still as close as ever. I love the trolls getting more screen time. I love Cat's frustration in her binding, and how the Master of the Hunt actually seems like a legitimate ominous omnipresence. I love that Camjiata keeps me guessing all the time. Sometimes the villains are the downfall of books, but not in this case.
Cat and Vai's relationship finally
getting to where it needed to be is probably the best and most satisfying part of the book. They've aired out all their dirty laundry, so all the misunderstanding drama can finally be put to rest. I won't deny that I fair swooned through every single interaction they had.
Also, holy crap chapter 31.5. God bless chapter 31.5!