This second book of the Book of Deacon Trilogy really falls flat, which is sad as I enjoyed the first one so much. The main character Myranda has become a master wizard and trained in hand to hand combat by the best there is yet she completely seems to forget she has these skills over and over again. The initiative, power, and creativity she displays in her final wizard test are completely gone once she leaves the hidden vale of Entwell and she becomes a victim of circumstance over and over again, relying on deus ex machine to save her over and over again.
After the progression of the character in the first book, this is just pathetic, she may as well not have been trained at all. The rest of the supporting cast suffers as well. Leo/Lain becomes a moody stereotype with little positive motivation and Ether the elemental is so annoying, contrary and unlikable you wonder why she is even in the story. The side characters of Trigora and Desmeres are the most interesting in the whole book, but perhaps that is just my opinion.
The 5 Generals are fleshed out a bit, and as villains are interesting but for inexplicable reasons vacillate between wanting to kill or capture the heroes. It seems that when they can easily capture them, they want to kill them, when they can easily kill them they simply capture them.
I'm very much on the fence about this book, I both loved and loathed it a various points. If the final book is good then all will be forgiven but if not then the great story promised by the first book is a loss.