I think it was helpful to have some time away from the first book before reading this one. I read The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms in under 24 hours in August, that's how much I enjoyed it. Now it's January. This book is told from an entirely different viewpoint character than Book 1, and the time off from the series helped me follow along with this viewpoint character as though I really didn't know any more than she. Of course I had recollection of the broad strokes, but not the nuances, until later events in this book brought a lot of it back.
This book also follows similar themes to the first, which I found equal parts annoying and nice. Despite her feelings towards Madding, it was never in doubt who she was meant to end up with. Gods being healed through love worked for the first book, but slightly less so here, at least for me. But the magic used toward the end to heal Itempas (temporarily) was awesome. And I liked how you were never really sure if someone was going to kill her.
For the middle book in a series, this one has great pacing. It never drags at all. However, it oddly seems to have about a dozen endings, like a movie where you're never quite sure if it's over. All of them are necessary, and all of them make sense, but I was amused by it anyway.
Overall,I really liked this story, though not quite as much as the first. One thing I appreciated about this book is that it has fewer uncomfortable sex scenes. And the sex in this book was much more toned down, for the most part. However the characters' development seemed very much a parallel to the first book. Looking forward to the concluding book!