The second book of Crown of Stars definitely suffers from a fracturing of the plot, with eight different viewpoint characters, most of which get turns from the get-go. Only one of these is a completely new character, and Anna’s story serves as something of the spine of the book, covering the plight of a pair of orphans after the taking of Gent. Unfortunately, even though her arc moves from a unstable equilibrium to a new, much better one at the end, it still feels partly unresolved, keeping Price of Dogs from having the same ‘tied off’ feeling that King’s Dragon did (that isn’t necessarily bad in book two of seven, but it feels like it was supposed to feel more complete at this point).

Between snippets of continuing threads, and much of the more developed portions centering around politics and the royal court, the book lacks the energy needed to really sweep you along, even though there’s plenty here, and some more of the worldbuilding becomes evident. Then ending suddenly, and surprisingly, picks up in tempo and sends you through the last hundred pages in a rush. Mostly though, Eliott does a great job in juggling all the different pieces of her story, keeping them moving along, and threading elements of each part into the others, so that you never feel that you really should be reading two or three different books.

The worst problem Prince of Dogs has is that the two main characters of the series, Alain and Liath, continue to be among the least dynamic of the cast. Liath’s arc continues with some important steps—as long as she can stay away from Hugh—and it’s shown that her helplessness is being imposed on her. Alain… mostly spends the book trying to grow into his new role, and having the predictable problems, as well as less expected ones. But, it doesn’t really feel like his story does much, except perhaps help weave much of the rest of the book together.