This series is like a seesaw tipping in the wrong direction. Instead of exploring a new world, the reader is left with marriages that mean nothing and frat boy pranks. The other see-saw is the weird relationship b/t Mieka and Cade: they're just friends, but Rawn paints this relationship in overtones of romance: they are too attached, and not in any way that satisfies the reader. I gave this sequel two stars because it seems like she'll set up for a battle in the third book (let's hope there is a third). Rawn is best at battles, court intrigue, the machinations of magic and battle sequences. Thus far, the Touchstone series hasn't provided much of any of these. I miss the Melanie Rawn of THE GOLDEN KEY and the Exiles series. I don't think readers will ever get a taste of that era of her brilliance again.