I almost want to give this a four star rating, but I can't quite bring myself to do it.
This book doesn't have the massive info-dumps that bogged down the first one, and I think it is better than the first... but it's writing is still not sitting well with me.
On the other hand, I love that I have two strong female protagonists, and, in fact, they're just as much saving the prince(ss) and being bad-ass as a male protag would in a lot of fantasy. Go gender stuff!
The action is interesting, and the world building is also fantastic. I like the characters, I like the plot... I think it's just the writing... and I'm sure it's probably just me.
One thing that did not sit right with me, that I can actually put my finger on is the whole issue with Drake "taking advantage" of Cat. He rapes her. I mean, it's a date rape, but a rape-rape just the same. He gets her drunk, he threatens her life (he convinces her that she will die if he doesn't have sex with her, which is the same thing as holding a knife to her throat, if you ask me). And it's treated with some disgust and anger by people in the book, but then it's brushed off as an "oh well" and there seem to be no lasting effects (other than continuing the rivalry between Drake and Vai)... so it's a plot point, using Cat as a piece of property? It bugged... and it was disappointing.
I have a feeling that the last book will be just as somewhat-tedious to read, but I do like the characters and I would like to see how the whole thing ends.