The fascinating story of Esen-alit-Quar, introduced in "Beholder's Eye" continues 50 years after the end of book one. Coaxed on a vacation by Paul, Es finds herself embroiled in a species conflict which sees her confronted with the darkest secret of Ersh, the Oldest of her Web. An element of menace is included early on with the re-appearance of Kearn, the shifter hunter, who wants to destroy Esen, and who is now backed by a mysterious and dangerous entity. The main plot, meanwhile, centers on the adventures of the webshifter and her only true friend. The relationship between Paul and Esen is drawn wonderfully, I especially enjoyed the contradiction between both personas' actual and relative ages - a contradiction which contributes nicely to the development of story and characters.
After finishing this sequel I am still fascinated by a being capable of changing shape, particularly since the author has created consistent and (in the context of a Science Fiction story) logical rules governing the web shifters' existence. Her universe, populated by numerous intriguing species, is well drawn and provides a satisfying background to the tale.
Deserving of negative comment is only the uneven pacing, evident in my view especially in the slow start. However, this might be a characteristic of Julie Czerneda's style, as I have encountered this also in her Trade Pact series.
In all, the story of Esen continues to fascinate me and I am looking forward to read the third book in the series, "Hidden in Sight". This is an enjoyable if not very fast read and the writer's ideas interesting enough that I will seek out her other books.