After reading the first book (Eyes of a King) I expected more developments on Leo's life, and him coming to terms with the loss in his family. While all this is in the book, it's told from Anselm's perspective (but 16 years later). I found the book quite different to the first one, mainly because the focus of the first book was the deep character development of Leo, and how the tragic story of his family deeply shape both his morals and who he choses to become as a person. The pace in this book is a lot faster, there are many more events, and it is all set in a background of political instability. The focus definitely shifted from Leo's emotions to the political events of Malonia, and to Anselm's family as a whole rather than any single individual. I liked the first book very much; Leo's psychology really captivated me...though I can understand why some might not, as it doesn't have lots of high-paced action (for that you should read Alex Rider). The many events in this book (not to mention very well-placed foreshadowing) make this book a lot more entertaining for the averege reader. Also, Catherine Banner's style has definitely improved a lot(!), both in the general flow of the story but most importantly in how the plot is laid out. By looking at other reviews, lots of people seem to have found the first book hard to follow sometimes; this is not likely to happen in this one (though there's still lots of margin to figure stuff out on your own which I found lots of fun :) ).
I gave this book 5 stars because it kept me entertained and curious to see what happens next right from the start of the book to the very end, because I really grew to care for the characters and because I found the book, put plainly, a very good story.