Much like the last book, this one has a lot of really, really good things in it. The characters are great. The interactions are great. The magic, the war, the subplots, the character arcs, the funny bits, the serious bits, all of it, chock full of great stuff. But there's so much narration and introspection and backstory in this novel that at some points, it smothers all the goodness.It's a shame. This is one of those books I really want to give five stars to. The plot was marvelous. There was more of a focus on the actual war than the romance between Karou and Akiva, so a lot less time was spent on mushy feelings and could be given over to action and worldbuilding instead. I loved it. Very gritty and stark and showing the aftermath of a brutal war, the continued rebellion and carnage that followed it, the search for a way to break the cycle of vengeance. Guh, just so much good stuff in here. There's just two things that bumped this book down to four stars:The pacing is terrible again. In a lot of ways, it doesn't bother me too much, because at least the fluff is interesting. But there's still way too much of it. There's entire chapters where nothing happens, chapters of pure introspection, where people just stand around and think about what's going to happen next chapter. There were lots of places in this book where I just skipped a page or two, to see if it would affect the reading, and I didn't even notice the missing page, just carried right on with the story (or lack thereof). Ms. Taylor comes up with really good introspection, but that doesn't mean that all of it needs to make it to print.The other thing is the attempted-rape scene. It was handled well enough for being what it is, and there were some actual emotional consequences afterwards, so at least it has that going for it. The problem is that, once again, a story used rape as a short-hand for evil. Like the guy wasn't bad enough for all the other stuff he was doing, all the innocent people he was killing, nope, that's not enough, we need rape to tip the balance for some reason. I'm really sick of seeing rape being used in such a cheap way, especially since it's likely to have such a profoundly triggering effect on a lot of readers. If you need a reason to justify why your bad-guy got stabbed in the face, I think the murder of small children works well enough.