I read the first volume of this book, and it was a great, informative read. After volume 2, I have this to say:
This book is not a cookbook for writing better code. Hyde explains why certain programming constructs are better than others (and in what cases), and backs it up with evidence from the assembly code (that is the entire premise of the book). Finally, solid proof of (and against) what I've been hearing all along from instructors and other programmers on message boards or face-to-face communication. That in mind, it would have been nice to have a summary of the tips at the end of the chapters, or the end of the book, as a quick-reference kind of thing. These concepts are the perfect thing to consider when fine-tuning your code. I take the stance that if you fine-tune as you go, you have less work later, so I took notes as I read and have started implementing changes for the better (with evidence that it is better) in some of my coding.
Does anyone write code in Pascal anymore? Seriously? Hyde discusses examples in C/C++ and Pascal for the most part (favoring Pascal, by my estimation), so it is nice that the book is language-independent for the reader. The assembly examples in the book are in 80x86 and PowerPC...I think it would have been better to release two versions of this book, one where the assembly is 80x86 (because it is so ubiquitous, if for no other reason), and then another where the assembly is in PowerPC assembly. I didn't pick this up to become an assembly language programmer, and quite frankly, the PowerPC examples just confused me. It looks like my cat stepped on my keyboard and it appeared in print.
The tone of the text is sometimes condescending (especially in the first 5-6 chapters), with a not-so-subtle "real men only code in assembly" message. It seriously reminds me of my parents/grandparents whining about how hard they had it growing up...walking barefoot to school in the winter...and only having assembly to work with in writing programs.
So by the end of this book, I think I have met Hyde's goal for the readers. I can't sit down and write an assembly program, but I can read enough assembly to compare different versions of my high-level program to say what is better. As the subtitle suggests, I am "thinking low-level" now as I write my programs (in C...which most programmers would call low-level). I suggest "actively" reading this book and coding up a few examples with your compiler and examining the output, following along in the text. Doing that really made the material click for me.
Overall, it's a good book and definitely worth it. This is a long one though, and takes some time to digest. See you in volume 3!