This book is a continuation of the story that began in "The Reluctant Swordsman" (see my separate review of that book). While the story is very good and I did enjoy reading it, this book feels even more rushed than the first volume. The main plot is often advanced at the expense of adding the kind of color and flavor that make the great series (Dune, Lord of the Rings, etc.) so good. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this book and there were less obviously dropped plotlines than in the first book. It could have been so much more though.
Essentially, this book takes our hero on a whirlwind tour of the World. The riddle from the first book is slowly revealed throughout his travels as are the outlines of the grand battle that will will be resolved, presumably, in the third volume. Some of the mysteries of the World are revealed as are some small pieces of the culture. In the end, it is the fact that our hero has come to accept the World at face value that turns out to be his biggest problem.
My main problem with the book is that there is so little development of minor plot points. The book feels like a rush to end of the main story arc leaving no time to explore other aspects of the world. Wallie/Shonsu visits a number of cities, but other than a cursory description of them, they are ignored despite the fact that they are all clearly unique. Even after two books, how the culture is constructed and how the various crafts and professions interact is still largely a mystery. I had hoped that this book would lead to an exploration of other crafts, but after constructing an elaborate structure for the World, the actually mechanics of how it runs are largely ignored.
And this lack of depth is a shame. The storyline is very good and despite the shortcommings in character and environmental development, I am enjoying it. I just wish that more time had been spent developing the World rather than sprinting through it.