Reviewing these two together as I read them together. This series takes place seventy years after his previous trilogy. The story is driven by fallout from the events in the previous story, and also opens up the world significantly. It's interesting, and the novel thinks a bit more about the whys and wherefores of the events than the average (or even superior) fantasy novel. On the down side, there are some truly horrible atrocities committed in the course of events which are fairly hard to get through.
One aspect that I particularly liked is an exploration of the role of a dark lord (the adversary from the previous trilogy), and how his brutal methods of control over his empire may be necessary or superior to more gentle governance. That said, it's far from an apology for him which might be an easier way to play this sort of thing in a story).
Another thing I find puzzling is the maps. Kirkpatrick is a cartographer, so the maps are wonderfully made (plausible geography and professional quality). Despite this, they all seem to miss out the most important things I want a map for: the journeys that the characters take. I think maybe the nicest looking ones have been chosen, rather than the most illustrative.