Everything in this sequel was bigger. The world-building was more expansive as Loch and her crew had to find and steal back the very same item that they have stolen from the Republic. What is so important about this manuscript? I always do love a bit of a mystery component in my books as it is a real page turner. And while there were dwarves, elves and fairy creatures in this series, they are not quite the same as those that we are familiar with.
The pacing was tight with a lot more action. In fact, it was almost non-stop action all the way from the first chapter. Even the non-physical action sequences was exciting in a manner of Casino Royale. The plot was deeper and darker with higher stakes as the fate of two nations on the precipice of war depended on Loch and her crew’s success. As for the plot twist and revelation, I definitely did not see that coming.
The core of good storytelling lies with its characters. With such a big ensemble cast where almost every single one plays an important role, the third person narrative strangely straddles between omniscient and limited. What I noticed, though, was that the female characters tend to get more in-depth personalisation. Aside from Loch, who was the main protagonist after all, the development of Desidora (the priestess) was significantly more fleshed-out and to a lesser extent, Ululenia (the unicorn - yes, you read that right) and Tern (the alchemist). The perspective of the male characters remained more or less omniscient although the author was able to place a bit more emotional impact on Kail, Loch's loyal companion, through this interaction with the others. Regardless, it was hard to pinpoint a clear favourite, as I liked ALL of them. A lot.
The story being what it was – action-packed and fun – did not suffer from this narrative style. My earlier complaint about the patchiness of the writing also did not surface for this sequel, or I could have just gotten used to the author's style. Either way it's discernibly better. A thoroughly entertaining read that improved from book to book, it will be intriguing to see how this will all eventually conclude in the third and final book.