I seemed to remember liking the first book in this series enough to put the sequel on my wishlist. But, upon reading this, I realized that I hardly remembered any details of the previous book (Court of the Air), and I really didn't particularly like this book.
It's action-packed... but rather than being exciting and emotional, events rush by so quickly that they're barely described, and they don't have time to make an impression, let alone an impact. Neither the characters or the settings came to life for me, and the plot elements were so sketchily outlined that they were sometimes confusing. (Well, except that some of them were lifted from 'Heart of Darkness.')
I liked a lot of the steampunk-y concepts and gadgetry - too bad most of them were cadged from China Mieville's Bas-Lag novels. (I mean, seriously, there're lobster-people, bird-people, and cactus-people, as well as sentient robots. Sound familiar?) A few digs at Mieville's politics are thrown in there too, for good measure.
On top of it, it ends up with my Least Favorite Trope of Fantasy: the super-powerful Thing which could confer Mystic Knowledge must be destroyed/gotten rid of, because Humanity Isn't Ready, and it's Too Dangerous. Blah to all that.
If I had been more entertained, I wouldn't mind, but I ended up reading as fast as I could, just to get to the end. It's too bad, because I feel like this ought to be the sort of book I would like.