Havemercy (the first book by these authors to which this story is a sort-of-sequel) very up my alley and ultimately enjoyable but still flawed in various areas, I was very much looking forward to these authors' second attempt and the improvement that would hopefully come with it. Writing non-overly-angsty character-driven fantasy that's slashy or outright m/m material...if they tightened up their work a bit, it seemed like these ladies could easily become favorites of mine.Unfortunately, while I found the first book flawed in parts but still enjoyable, I gave up on finishing—or frankly even getting terribly far in—this one. If I had to pick a word to describe it, it would undoubtedly be “meandering” (and not intentionally so). At setup the plot seems to have potential to be better done than that in Havemercy, yet as far as I read, the story still showed no signs of taking shape or direction, nor did the characters start showing much of any signs of taking a role in shaping their situation.This wouldn't be so bad (plot being a shaky point in Havemercy as well) if the character development side of things didn't meander as well. There's a lot of prose dedicated to characters' current thought processes or thoughts on their past. While clearly meant for characterization, one can't help but imagine there must have been some more interesting as well as less ham-fisted way of getting points about a character's personality to us other than having a character who knows him well think about him and tell us what he thinks. At length. The characters also banter a lot, but while I usually love dialogue-heavy writing, that dialouge has to be accomplishing something. Too often it felt like the authors were just writing banter with no actual idea of what purpose it was playing in the development of their characters or story. As for world building, the metal dragons that gave this world its one unique point are (as far as I can see so far) gone. Instead we get a pseudo-Asian fantasy culture, all of the most detailed bits of the world that I can tell having been lifted not from the authors' imaginations but straight out of Japan. I'll put up with authors of anime/manga fanfiction giving me the uncontrollable urge to scream “stop being such a weaboo” occasionally. But paid authors of original fiction? Seriously. Please. Stop being such a weaboo.(Also, speaking of derivative, one of the main characters in this novel is similar to a character from another series of similar type (character-interaction-driven-fantasy-with-gay-characters. Felix from Sarah Monette's DoL series) to such an extent that I almost can't help but think that the authors MUST not have ever read it, because SURELY they cannot have been shameless enough to have KNOWINGLY copied so many points of a character.)With a plot that never (or not soon enough for me to see it) takes a direction and characters characterized/developed too clumsily to ever feel real enough to grip me, there wasn't much reason for me to keep reading this novel. While Havemercy may have gotten my hopes up since it was just a first novel and would surely lead to improvement, I think I'll wait to read these gals again till I hear from a reliable source that they've significantly improved. Still, if you like your male/male interaction focused fantasy (I don't THINK this one actually goes into outright romance ever), it's readable, if a bit aimless.