I really enjoyed the strange science fantasy world that the author has created. The planet was settled by human space travelers millennia ago, only to lose the majority of their technology and revert to a Medieval state. However, the planet also possesses a race of insectoid aliens who have a peculiar relationship to the local trees as well as access to world-changing powers related to the Woern parasites
The book opens with Victoria successfully crushing the slave-holding armies of Relman with the power of sorcery. Vic can and does level mountains with her power but each use of it is something that brings her closer to death. However, it seems like the price is well worth it since it allows her capture the evil nobleman Lornk. Lornk was the man who held her prisoner, chopped off the hand of her lover, and warped her entire sense of being with deliberate attempts to brainwash her with kindness.
Unfortunately, nothing remains good in Vic's life and she still suffers crippling guilt as well as self-loathing for the fact she survived where so many of her people did not. It causes serious issues in her burgeoning romantic relationship as well as contributes to her belief that any happiness in her life is fleeting. It doesn't help that sorcery is illegal and while many people know she is a magic-user, public revelation would lead to her exile.
A.M. Justice is a master of both melodrama as well as high stakes political intrigue. The conflicts among the feuding families include illegitimate children, long-dead romances, gaslighting, and complicated webs of personal intrigues. Lornk is a particularly well-designed villain as he attempts to frame his every action for the greater good while fostering fatherly or romantic relationships with his worst enemies. His greatest skill is that he can portray himself as a well-intentioned extremist and misunderstood progressive versus the narcissistic psychopath that he actually is.
The blend of science fiction and fantasy is well done with a large portion of this book's plotline dealing with time-travel in addition to magic. Science and magic are not portrayed as enemies in this world but simply the case of the latter being something wholly inexplicable to the human colonists. Much humor is derived from the fact that the predominate religion in the region is from a misunderstanding of the records relating to the original spacecraft that brought them here. Even then, enough bizarre and miraculous events confuse "heretics" like Vic who believe in a space-based origin for mankind.
Secondary characters from the first book have much bigger roles this time around with my favorite being Bethniel. The daughter of Latha's ruler, she is attempting to prove herself but finds herself continually overshadowed by Vic's deeds. Everyone has their own plots and counter-plots, though, which makes the book a vibrant as well as engaging read.
In conclusion, I very much liked this book and am glad to have read it. It is full of politics, twists, and turns as well as more than a few doomed romances. These are all things I enjoy reading about.