I'm really impressed by this series. Yes, as someone told me, it does grow very dark as it proceeds - but the young man at the center of it is born in difficult circumstances (illegitimate son of the heir to the throne) and grows up with very few choices, bound by an oath of loyalty to accept whatever tasks are given to him by the king - and some of those tasks are very, very dark.
Like any sequel, there's a lot of recapping (which gets annoying when you read them back-to-back, but necessary I suppose when there's a significant gap between publication) but there's also some repetition I could have done without. Hobb sometimes recalls a theme or incident in excruciating detail - yes, we remember, he can't use his gifts because he was intentionally hurt while learning to use them. You can stop reminding us now. (It's like the difference between TV shows in the UK vs. US - British TV writers don't seem to feel they need to spell out every nuance, while American ones will virtually shove their point down your throat.)
One aspect of Hobb's storytelling that I really did appreciate is that quite often Fitz's decisions and actions seem completely appropriate at the time, even heroic, but then as they are examined and criticized by Fitz's leaders and "family of choice", those who most care about him - his mentor Chade, Chivalry's widow Lady Patience, the stablemaster Burrich, King Shrewd, King-in-Waiting Verity, even the Fool - his errors and misplaced assumptions, however well-intentioned, are revealed to the reader just as they are to him. That's a real gift - to be able to make both sides of the coin equally understandable and sympathetic choices. It's sometimes difficult to keep in mind that Fitz is still an adolescent -- one who has had to grow up appallingly quickly, but still operates with the passion, willfulness and impulsivity of youth.