It was kind of difficult to orient myself in the beginning, mainly b/c the sequel hits the ground running exactly where the first book left off. Having read the first book some years ago, I struggled to reestablish connection with plot and characters. Most series will catch the reader up on previous events rather early, but not this one. It's not a fault necessarily; the books may simply have to be read immediately one after the other for the best effect.
The author has a lyrical style which isn't pretentious. It's hard to balance beautiful language with high tension. The author manages to convey much with little, and for someone whose eyes normally glaze over during setting descriptions, I enjoyed her imagery very much.
Things that might have been handled differently were the pacing and the overall plot. The thread with Tristan/Rosalie/LaBarque was the weakest point of the story, even though it takes up half the length. This is why I didn't give the book a higher rating. The whole LaBarque revenge ploy seemed like unrelated, flimsy filler compared to the Derkh/Feolan/Gabrielle arc, which had more continuity and gravity in the context of the first book. I wish the author had spent more time in certain scenes; the book seemed to rocket along, and I'd sometimes feel like I'd missed an important event. I normally think that books can't move fast enough, so for me to think something moves too quickly... well, it was a first.
Anyway, I will proceed on to the last book in the series. I have faith that things will end well for me as a reader and for Gabrielle et al. =]