Two things first. A. I liked this one a lot better than the first even though it wasn't technically better. and B. It's SO depressing to me that I can't put this one on my female friendships shelf. But as with so much contemporary fantasy, the only real, meaningful relationships are either familial or romantic, so why would you want to have friendships? They're clearly inferior shadows. *eyeroll*First, the very good - I loved the addition of Rena, an elven character who's meek and quiet and demure because if she's not, she'll be punished in pretty horrible ways. I found her arc to be an incredibly engaging one - one that focuses on her not only as a person but as a woman, and lets her be feminine without ever belittling that femininity or mistaking it for weakness or foolishness. Other characters do, but they're shown to be wrong. Her strength never becomes a Xena-like fighter sort, and I love her all the more for it. A bit of variety :)Now the bad - boy howdy does everyone need to be paired off into couples. It feels so awkward and forced. I don't mind romance but there's more to life than finding your wun twoo wuv. Especially in the middle of a freaking war!!!Also, a lot of the descriptions and passages are just kind of awkward. I like both authors, but it feels like neither is on their A game in this series. Between the afforementioned need to pair everyone off, a whole lot of tell don't show, and a series of convenient coincidences, it really sapped the energy out of the main story. Luckily, reading to find out what was going on with Rena was enough to keep me reading. :) I enjoy this book well enough, but I'd have a hard time recommending it unless you're a massive fan of dragons, which I think it does in an exceedingly interesting way.