I actually liked this quite a lot. Better than the first one! It feels like the second half of the first one, really--they should have just been one book. This one has a lot of great stuff in it--more plot, more romance, and most importantly, A KITTEN. Seriously, the idea of Pounce as a teeny kitten was so cute I had to put the book down for a minute. And he brings his delightful snark to the rest of the book. Alanna now has the complete Mary Sue set--purple eyes, magic cat, magic sword, beautiful horse, and two boys vying for her love. But I don't mind because I would have absolutely eaten this stuff up as a young teen, and also, Alanna is awesome. I mean, Beka has a lot of the same kind of stuff, but I love her too. I'm looking forward to devouring everything else Pierce has written and then reading the Beka Cooper books again.