Better than 'The Steel Remains', which as pretty good, but had some slow bits. 'The Cold Commands' slows down a bit in a couple places as well, but I got a better idea of the global scope of the story, and the characters (except for the putative MC Gil, ironically) really sprang to life in this story. To clarify: Gil seems to to an entirely unsympathetic character. His first through upon meeting anyone is 'How has this person failed me?' or 'How WILL this person fail me?'. Unless, of course, Gil has fucked the other character, in which case we learn the character has fucked AND failed Gil. Fair enough. Gil has been persecuted enough.But Archeth and Egar, who have been loyal to Gil the entire time, are treated as humorous barriers or flat-out burdens. Gil cares only for vengeance against.... we aren't told who he believes to be a valid recipient of this thirst for revenge, but he is plenty angry. At himself, at the Dwenda, at his homeland.... His mother is off the hook, because she knew he was gay and offered some veiled hints. Of course, she didn't really try to protect him when his homosexuality was persecuted in his homeland, but still....So. While a skillful book, and full of thrilling action and full characters, it is missing only one ingredient: a Hero.3.5 stars.