This book is a rarity among books. This is the sequel, and yet it's far better than the first. There are several reasons why, but it gives me a great deal of hope for the rest of the series.
First, the author dramatically toned down the love triangle. That in and of itself was enough of a change to satisfy me. They replaced the romantic aspects with politics, which fleshed out the world and gave things a very strong story.
Second, they added a great deal of action and problem solving, and a number of twists and turns which made it difficult to predict. Even better, the end of the story leaves a lot to the imagination and opens up further potential for the next volume.