By most measures, this is probably sufficiently bleak, but not by comparison to the preceding volume. At least not for the first 100 pages or so. Then, at last, there's a decent body count, but never quite the same intensity.
Some of the new POV characters are interesting and some of the old are a lot more interesting. Somehow, though, towards the end the revelations and betrayals felt formulaic in addition to inevitable.
I don't know. I've been thinking about it for a while. It's not that I didn't enjoy reading it, but somewhere in the last 150 pages or so, it felt like the bones were showing through the flesh. Like I was looking at a structure and a set of narrative devices instead of a story.
I am looking forward to the next one to see where the groundwork established here is leading.
I am also pleased that, at long last, there was finally a euphemism besides peach.