I wasn't particularly taken with the first book in this trilogy, but this second volume gives back all that was promised in that story. Possibly as good as the Farseer trilogy, recommended for those who like good fantasy stories.
This one also takes all the seemingly straightforward cultures of the first book and shows enough of each that they take on a lot more depth (and, at the end of the day, they all seem terrible). The protagonist spends the whole novel stuck between two of them, being required by both to destroy the other. He does not have an easy time (which I guess is pretty standard for Hobb - she's very nasty to her characters).