This is the second book in this far future opera series. It can be read without having read the first book. While the two main characters continue from the first book, the other characters are new, the setting and the main issue the characters need to deal with are different. The book ends with things wrapped up, I don’t know if there are further books planned in the series.
The characters in the book, both old and new are fantastic. The relationship between the two main characters deepens in a compelling way, when they fight, it is not due to a lack of communication but deep cultural differences. This book continues to do a good job illustrating how the powerful Empire and tiny Lsel Station relate to each other.
However, I found the first contact scenario with the aliens to be less well drawn. When we can imagine that a group of aliens might be a hive mind, why would the Empire not include that as a possibility from the first and vice versa? Why doesn’t the fleet include a team of xenobiologists and linguists from the start, even if all you want to do is fight, it is useful to be able to understand the enemy language so you can spy on them. And what kind of bureaucratic system lets a mid level employ assign a task to herself without a supervisors approval?