If so, Battle is back to the mannered-and-abstract stuff. The important characters are all politicians, tailors, butlers, or immortal elf-mages, and so they all have impeccable manners and perfect poker faces. Yes, there are cracks and strains and subtle implications. But I'm starting to suspect that the author threw in three cranky talking cats just so that somebody could swear and claw the furniture once in a while. On Jewel's behalf.
It's a solid story. Stuff happens. But the book is just a little bit of an impenetrable foot-thick slab. I had to take a break halfway through to inhale a Peter Grant novel.