The worldbuilding was more expansive as we get to see and learn more about the magic of dragons and of the spirits of the earth. Rachel Aaron has created a really unique setting for this series and the backstory of how dragons ended up on earth was truly captivating. Even though the exposition can sometimes come across as a bit of an info dump, I was too happily lapping it all up to be really bothered about it.
The development of the characters was wonderful. While Julius was still as nice as ever, you just cannot mistake him for being weak and definitely not stupid. With the machination of his oldest brother, who was one of three dragon seers ever in existence, Julius was placed as the central chess-piece towards an endgame which relied on his unique undraconic personality to succeed. It was frankly quite masterful.
Marci's magic potential grew by leaps and bounds, and what was even more intriguing was the development of her relationship with her spirit (which comes in the form of a ghost cat). This is definitely one human to watch out for. The growth of her romantic relationship with Julius was also handled well. I hate plot devices where characters don't communicate and talk things through. Fortunately, this was not an issue here.
Julius' older siblings were truly the icing on the cake. Crazy Amelia the Planeswalker, quirky Bob the Seer, awesome Chelsie the Shade and obnoxious Justin the Knight/Champion – each and every one of them are great in their own special way and they were much more fully explored in this instalment.
About one-third in, the ever-escalating events made it ever so hard to put the book down. There were loads of revelations and cool action set-pieces replete with awesome displays of magic. And it was all wrapped up in an exciting edge-of-the-seat climax which was then followed by an earth-shattering event. I am absolutely hooked on Heartstrikers now.