Today's book review is The Protector's War by S. M. Stirling.
This is a sequel to Dies the Fire, following the same characters (with some new ones added); it would probably be helpful to read the earlier book first but probably not completely necessary.
I found the characters engaging and sympathetic for the most part, with the exception of one psycho bitch who needs to be dropped down a well, and the story mostly worked; I enjoyed the read and my overall impression was positive. But there were a couple of things that bothered me pretty significantly. Most of the story is told in a fairly straightforward way -- it switches between viewpoints, but in linear time in each viewpoint so that it makes sense. But the most critical action in the story is jumbled and told in flashbacks so that it's suddenly hard to figure out what is really happening. And while most of the book is pretty complete in its detail, right at the end of the story we suddenly get very fragmentary and ambiguous information about what really happened to some important characters. It's not a true cliffhanger; whatever happened has already happened, we just don't find out how it turned out. And in the time we skip between the last chapter and the epilogue, there should have been some pretty interesting and important story developments other than just what happened to those characters which we're left to just assume. It's a pretty satisfying read up until the end, but in the last bit the focus switches from telling a good story to trying to blackmail you into reading the next book (which is pretty clearly coming).
7 out of 10 -- but if the ending had been up to the rest of the book, I'd probably be giving it a 9. Bad author! No biscuit!