Actual rating 3.5 stars.This book, even more than the first, feels like a love letter to being a geek in the 2000's. Especially a geek of sci-fi and fantasy things. There's references to a wide variety of books, as well as books better known as movies and a dash of D&D. Star Wars? Beauty? Girl Genius? And older classics as well. Plus what Terry Pratchett fan doesn't love seeing that very advice they've probably given themselves - read Pratchett. Read ALL the Pratchett.As for the book itself, it's a lot of fun to read. I love our main characters, the return of a character from book 1 that I wasn't sure we'd see again brought a smile to my face and the plot moved quickly from one scene to another. the understandings of belief and humanity and the complication of human bonds are all explored, and explored pretty well. People are complicated, their bonds are complicated, and this book doesn't shy away from that fact.I feel bad, but I like Lena SO much better than I like Isaac. It's nice to get an appropriately nerdy and awesomely well-read hero who's also brave and creative and smart, but seeing Lena struggling to overcome what she is in a way that a human person won't ever have to keeps being so deeply compelling, and her joy in all things is so infectious.I also really enjoyed two new additions to the cast in Jeneta, who can do libriomancy with e-books, and Jeff the werewolf, whose plain speak I quite enjoyed. I hope we'll see more of both (and feel we will)But - and I understand why its like this, but still - it sometimes felt like there was just too much going on. You could make an argument for this story having five different antagonists with distinct agendas, piling into one another and sometimes working with one another and sometimes against, sometimes making the transition from antagonist to ally and vice versa. This meant things were *always* going on, and I found myself really wishing for five seconds for a breather at times.Also - and again I think I understand why it was like this and don't fault the decision - the body count in this is weirdly high, even though our main characters all get plot armor. And I get showing that big battles have real life consequences for innocent people, and I get that part of the issue here is that this conflict is not just destroying any innocents, but innocent people Isaac knows and cares about. And I don't fault him for that. But for me, it just threw me out of the story. What that says about me... dunno. If you enjoyed the first, this is worth reading, as an enjoyable and quick-paced book which sets up even more questions and fleshes out the rules and the world Hines has created.