One upside to having your fantasy series feature many worlds is that, if you like, you can have an all-out apocalypse on one of them and still have plenty of larger story left. I won't say whether or not the apocalypse here is successful, but the point is that the series is structured in such a way that I was genuinely
curious whether or not every inhabitant of this planet would be killed. It's also a particularly interesting, maddening, implacable, and frightening wave of death that washes over the world of Pryan -- one that begins and does not stop, turning pretty much the last two thirds of the book into an escape from the inevitable that doesn't really slow down much.
In worldbuilding (both individual world of this book, and larger universe of the series) and greater plot concerns, this book follows it's predecessor very well. The world is fascinating, full of strange surprises and a frightening foe, and the possibilities for future installments seem very promising. Also, much of the sociological side of things that I liked so much in the first book is here as well. Elven Star is a step down, though, as regards characters.
I just didn't care about most of them. Haplo, the only person in both books, remains interesting and mysterious, but the "local" protagonists of this book were a lot harder to like than the ones in the last book. The humans are alright, until they suddenly fall in agonizing love/lust with elves, but the elves themselves... man, I don't know. In the last book, the elves were terrible, aristocratic, exploitative dicks, and I thought that was great. In this book they are the same, but we're asked to like some of them, and I just didn't see enough dimensions to get me to like any of them. Even Paithan, by far the most likable, is a fucking slave-owner (who sometimes sleeps with his slaves, which, I don't care how it seems, is never entirely consensual), and the slaves here are of a different race, which is considered to be inferior by the elves. Maybe it's part of the same reason I've never gotten myself to see Gone With the Wind, but I just can't bring myself to like a character like that. We're supposed to like him but recognize that he's wrong... I couldn't do it. His sisters are both fucking maddening, and it's clearly on purpose, so for the most part I enjoyed a good skewering of crazy rich bigots, but then when I was asked to care... Yeah.
That said, the book is still certainly enjoyable, and the world and its main threat are great. The slow, slow, slow unfolding of the larger story of the series is progressing nicely, and I like the growing subtext of the Two Ancient Races, One Good, One Evil, in which that line is getting extremely blurred. Fun, a good continuation, but I hope we get some better protagonists in the next one. Amoral is fine, but they have to be likable too.OH, OH, OH! ADDENDUM!
I forgot to point out, when I wrote that, that the other interesting character is the particularly strange wizard Zifnab (yes, his name is supposed to be funny). But I can't fully judge him just now, because whether or not I like certain parts of his characterization will depend on what we learn about him in the future. As it is, he uses a lot of... out of place, 20th century pop culture references. If this is just for humor, it ill-befits the setting. If, as I hope, it is a hint at where/when he's from and the history of this universe, it is acceptable. Either way, that aside, he provides a pretty good mixture of humor and foreboding, with the humor, usually, not getting in the way of all that horror going on.