I'm a well read grad student who's bluntly honest about all things, although I try to be most honest about myself.
Even thought I knew the Mal and Sonia relationship was coming, I wasn't compelled by it at all, and truth be told, slightly annoyed by that whole thing. There was so much here, shoehorning in a romance felt not only unnecessary but so forced I nearly hurt myself rolling my eyes.
That being said, I was once again swept away by this world and the characters. Even Rainier gets a background that makes him slightly sympathetic, even if his fanaticism drives him on to do horrible things. (Again, Killian was the same way in Fathom. There are a lot of similar themes, although explored in different manners and different enough worlds that these stories are still compelling. Fanaticism is also a deep, deep well, and Turner chose a good theme to mine here.)
Malikai comes into his power, and there are still surprises yet to come for him. The world of magic is revealed, and although it's shielded from technology, Rainier has the money, time, and patience to not only spy out the location, but plan a coup.
Which means that he can terrorize that world, even if Mal can bring balance and magic back to the world. Turner no longer illustrates, but Benitez takes over, and does an absolutely amazing job. I'm looking forward to the next volume.