I really, really enjoyed this. It didn't blow my mind like Claimings, Tails, and Other Alien Artifacts, but it was a pleasure to read from beginning to end. It looks like there will be at least one more book in this series, and I am really looking forward to reading it - without at all feeling cliffhanger-ish.
It is such a pleasure to watch the members of each species try to figure out the other species. Not just their customs and language, but also the differences in their emotional responses and even their battle strategies. Liam is getting the hang of it, but the new human character, Captain Susan Diallo, is constantly making mistakes and offending.
Like Liam, I am beginning to relate better to the Rownt way and find the human way to be puzzling and illogical. I can't like Diallo. But when I put myself in her position, everything she does makes sense. She is in the human military, and they are in pretty desperate straits. They need every advantage, and she is there to figure out the Rownt and use the knowledge to the human military's advantage. The fact that she is wrong about a lot of things makes sense given how hard the Rownt are to figure out. But I still want to wring her neck a few times. :-)
Ondry and Liam are both coming into their own in this book. They are more confident in each other and in their skills and standing in the Rownt community. Ondry is lovely character. He is ambitious and skilled at what he does, but his first priority is always his palteia. Liam is dedicated to Ondry, and hence is becoming more ambitious and skilled himself. His submissive nature and his desire to please and serve plainly make the humans underestimate him constantly (idiots). The development of their relationship is lovely. It reminds me of Vic and Jacob in the Psycop series - not super mushy, and not fraught with dumb misunderstandings and jealousy - just deeper and stronger with time. Romantic underneath rather than on the surface.
There are some great touches, such as Liam's sorrow when he learns that a planet he defended while in the army has fallen to the rebels. A fellow soldier died there - starved - because their food consisted of corn and he was allergic to corn (this highlighted how desperate the human army is). The grandmothers are awesome as always, and there is a chirpy young Rount trader who shows Liam that being regarded as a youngling brings a power of its own.
If there are any downsides, I would say that this book was maybe a little too smooth and easy, and the hard scifi aspects were on the light side. However, quite the opposite will plainly pertain in the next book in this series.