The Tempering of Men - Elizabeth Bear, Sarah Monette I started this book with equal parts eagerness and trepidation, because I truly adored A Companion to Wolves, so I was surely setting myself up for disappointment with unreasonable expectations. And I was right, kind of. I did like this book. These are the same fantastic settings and characters that I loved from before, and we get to learn more about their fascinating world and follow on more of their crazy shenanigans. And there were some awesome new things; brilliant layers added to this already rich and intricate world. Some sequels leave me wishing I'd stopped after the last book, but that was not the case here. But I do I feel like it suffered from a distinct lack of focus. Companion felt very tightly plotted to me; it had a strongly woven central plot, revolving around Isolfr and his integration into a wolf-bonded, troll-killin' band of warriors during a time of war and upheaval. The Tempering of Men didn't seem have as much focus. It spun out in a lot of different directions, and I never got a strong impression of what the book was really about at its core, besides the further adventures of Wolf-Vikings and Co. Elements were touched on with some significance, only to trickle off into obscurity. Obstacles were raised, with little or no resolution. It felt like a lot of stage-setting for the next installment, so maybe my issues will settle down a bit with a third book under this series' belt.I feel that the writing slipped a bit from the "authentic" feel of the first. I hesitate to say "authentic," because of course this is a fantasy, not a historical. I don't know or frankly care how accurate the old-timey Scandanavian-ish details are. But this book, at times, had a more contemporary feel to the prose, and sometimes jarringly modern-sounding dialog. For instance, a character starting a monologue with "So I was thinking..." (Which just feels very current in style to me, but maybe I'm wrong.) All in all, a good book. Enjoyable, but not quite as riveting as the first. A definite link in the chain, that will flounder a bit in my estimation until it is joined by a strong third book to the series, which I await with eagerness.