This is the second in the Alera series, after Furies of Calderon. It's notably better. The book starts a little slow, with several new characters as well as the existing ones mainly being in new situations. Once it gets going, however, it's exciting and hard to put down.
It still suffers from an excess of description, a common problem in fantasy novels. Butcher also splits the narrative a little too much. There are three main point of view characters, each with their own story, and a few others get a chapter here and there. I think I would have found the story more compelling if it just followed the main protagonist, Tavi, and we found out about the other events from his point of view or in shorter subplots. There's also a lot of made up words (well, use of Latin for a feel of Roman antiquity, I guess) which is something I no longer enjoy having to work through.
One thing that I really do like about this is that Tavi is really not a chosen one. He's negatively special, in that he's unique in his country for not being able to do magic. So he makes up for it by working really hard and aiming to out-think his opponents (who are used to relying on magic to do anything difficult). This theme was present in the first book as well, but wasn't really developed fully.