Welcome to another entry in Mris Loves Middle Books! Ramification powers: activate! When last we left the steppes, things were starting to go to hell in a handbasket, and in fact to hell in a handbasket they have gone. With actual setting-appropriate ghuls and rukhs and other not-very-fluffy creatures to make the handbasket's destination entirely clear. I'm really fond of the tendency in some branches of modern fantasy to think through less-generic inspiration sources for settings, and I'm really fond of the tendency in some branches of modern fantasy to think about how people explore and think about their worlds, how people figure it all out. Shattered Pillars combines the two beautifully.
The previous book in this series (Range of Ghosts) was Samarkar's book for me. I liked several of the other characters, but Samarkar-la was my clear favorite and the character whose scenes I looked forward to most. That continued here, but she acquired a rival: I started to really like Tsering. She is not a Broken Wizard, she's a theorist! Is different! Am so fond. And she has a magical plague to figure out stuff about! I love magical plagues. Love love LOVE them. More fantasy autopsies, more! This works particularly well with the non-standard cosmology setup in this world for me.
(I will also take as much Hrahima as I can get. Cat-people who actually react like large predators to things and have other animals react to them as large predators! Muuuch better. And the bits where the monkey-people who don't know very many of her people have to try to interpret her emotional reactions made me very happy.)
I think it's better if you read the previous one first than if you come to Shattered Pillars cold--more emotional resonance, a bunch of stuff better-explained previously so that matociquala can get on with what she's up to in this book instead of rehashing the last one. I think this would still work by itself, but matociquala went to all the trouble of writing another one for you to read, probably you should if this interests you. Luckily for you, you can! It's in print, it's in pixels, it's available unto you. Go, read, enjoy, squee.