"If I am a sword, I am a sword made of glass, and I feel myself beginning to shatter."
For two thirds of the book my reactions switched between:
1) oh God, another endless description of a place
2) not another quarrel again!
3) yay, another betrayal, how original
4) Mare, have you finished insulting everything and everyone?!
5) just kiss you two and stop pretending
So yes, the beginning was a bit boring and annoying. I really couldn't stand Mare's attitude, sending away even people like Kilorn and Shade just because she doesn't want to be betrayed anymore. Even though at the same time she also dreads remaining alone. She wants to be listened to but she doesn't want to be a leader. She longs for love while considering it a distructions. She's ready to sacrifice everything to reach her goal but then feels guilty.
...a bit contradictory, isn't she?
"The girl I see s both familiar and foreign, Mare, Mareena, the lightning girl, the Red Queen, and no one at all. A banner of the Scarlet Guard, a face on a wanted poster, a prince's downfall, a thief... a killer. A doll who can take any form but her own."
Mare's character was steadly developping during the book, showing her worse, most cruel and aggressive sides together with her greatest fears and weaknesses. She has to fight not only against the Silvers, but against her own heart. Maven's ghost that continues to hunt her. The regards that the others give her. She feels different. She feels alone.
The story itself has become more gruesome, filled with almost just fights, slaughters, treasons, squabbles, nightmares, guilt, hate. There was really no place for a little bit of peace, at least some short parts that could lighten the heavy atmosphere, and this is something that personally made the reading more difficult.
"But I can't shake the feeling that, while they stand with me, there's no one beside me. Even with an army at my back, I am still alone."
Many new and old characters entered the scene (maybe too many), but many also disappeard. This made a hard growing to love them, because there was no time to get to know them. Aside from their names and abilities, the reader doesn't know almost anything about them, because the majority of the book is only focused on action or Mare's thoughs. Another flaw that wasn't present in the first book.
If it hadn't been for the ending, the rating would be much lower. First of all I got very moved. I was hoping that my favourite character (after Maven, when he was still that sweetie thing) would make it also through this book, but of course it didn't go as I planned. I really couldn't stop crying.
The (only) plot twist came just in the final pages. I didn't really understand Mare's decision considering how she behaved during all the story, but at the same time I'm really fascinated by the unespected role of some characters. Of course just these elements aren't enough to make this book as amazing as the first, but at least they make my quite curious about the final novel.