Perhaps despite myself, I was a huge fan of the first book in this series. No FTL travel? Humanity stuck in the home system? It all just seemed a bit, well... parochial. More 'space soap' than 'space opera'. But then I actually read it and it wasn't parochial at all - it was genius. Believable characters, interesting plot, snappy dialogue, and everything coming together to make a proper sci-fi yarn.
So I was naturally interested to read this follow-up - and it doesn't disappoint. The newer characters are all engaging, the plot is at least as interesting as in the first book, and the quality of the writing is high. It's possible that I enjoyed the first book more, but I think that's only really because the first book was such a surprise find. I read an enormous amount of sci-fi - lots of it less than stellar - but these books are well worth the attention of even the very occasional sci-fi fan.
I actually rather hate the prominence of series in sci-fi - it smacks of a lack of creativity, or of barely masked greed at the expense of creativity. But when it's done well, as it is here, it can be a real pleasure. If I hadn't already started, I might prefer to have waited to start these books until all 3 were out (because I absolutely hate waiting for sequels), but I'd heartily recommend this series to anyone and everyone who likes a good read.