Story summary: This is a direct continuation of the first book, The Silence of Medair. Thus any detailed summary of the story is going to involve major spoilers for that. So I'm just going to say: think the first book, with all its fantastical world-building and 500-year-old backstory, except more personal and romantic.
- Some subtle relationships from the previous book are revealed. Definite pay off for getting through the (to me) slightly less enjoyable first book.
- There is lots of interesting pondering of ethical questions.
- New worlds, new races, new cultures.
- It's a continuation of the first book, and you really can't read it at all without having first read The Silence of Medair.
- It's a lot more romantic than the first book, which is actually a plus for me because I like the romance better in the second book than the first. But if you don't like the second-half romance better, it's going to be seriously annoying how much time is spent on it.
- Not everything is resolved properly. Kind of bothersome, that.
1. General summary of other thoughts: There was a lack of Avahn, which was sad because he was my favourite character. But it made up for it by having important scenes with my other favourite character, Keir Ieskar. The ethical quandaries were still very interesting in this book, as in the last; Illukar mentions liking Medair best for her intense sense of justice, and I completely agree. The twists, and maybe the writing style too, still ended up making me feel distant from the characters. But less than the previous book, and not at all once you get near the end. But more on that below.
2. Ok, now for the spoiler-y romance talk! Use rot13 to translate!
Jryy, gung raqrq hc jnl pbbyre guna V rkcrpgrq. V ybirq Xrve Vrfxne sebz gur ortvaavat, naq vg jnf fb njrfbzr gb unir uvz raq hc orvat n/gur ybir vagrerfg, rfcrpvnyyl jura bar ernyvmrq nyy gur fhogyr uvagf fgerja guebhtubhg gur svefg obbx (gur arj crefcrpgvir ba "Gur Fvyrapr bs Zrqnve" fbat...!). V sbhaq gur ovgf jvgu gur gjb bs gurz ng gur raq engure oerngugnxvat, npghnyyl. Naq vg znqr zr srry zhpu zber sbe gur punenpgref, fvapr V arire orpnzr nyy gung sbaq bs Vyyhxne. Va snpg, V engure jvfu gurer unq orra fbzr jnl gb znxr rirelguvat jbex orgjrra Zrqnve naq Vrfxne jvgubhg Vyyhxne naq gur obql zryqvat. V xabj gurer jnfa'g n jnl--Zrqnve'f punenpgre naq crefbany pbasyvpg jbhyqa'g nyybj sbe vg, sbe bar guvat. Vs bayl gur obbx jrer jryy-xabja rabhtu sbe fbzr tbbq snasvpgvba gb fubj hc...
Ohg gur zvkvat bs Vyyhxne naq Vrfxne va bar obql erzvaqrq zr n yvggyr bs gur zvkvat bs jbeyqf gung unccrarq qhr gb gur Pbasyntengvba ng gur raq bs gur cerivbhf obbx. Vg frrzrq gb ybfr fbzrguvat ol gelvat gb unir rirelguvat. V guvax Uöfg onfvpnyyl chyyrq vg bss guvf gvzr, orggre guna gur Pbasyntengvba, ohg vg fgvyy frrzrq n ovg gung Vyyhxne jnf chg vagb gur zvk whfg fb fur jbhyqa'g eha njnl, bgurejvfr ur jbhyq unir qvrq n urebvp qrngu. Znlor gung'f whfg zl ovnf gbjneqf Vrfxne fubjvat hc, gubhtu.
Ohg fgvyy, va trareny, gur jnl gur znva ebznapr naq cybg vagrenpgrq jnf cerggl qnea pbby naq jryy qbar.
Naq ba n pbzcyrgryl qvssrerag, ohg fgvyy ebznagvp, gbcvp: jung nobhg Ninua naq Vyrnun, ru? Gurve fgbel jnf arire erfbyirq cebcreyl, naq V yvxrq gurz! Gung jnf qvfnccbvagvat, ohg V fhccbfr vg znqr frafr pbafvqrevat gur sbphf ba Zrqnve. Ohg gurer jrer n fgvyy srj gbb znal ybbfr raqf sbe zl yvxvat, va guvf naq bgure nernf. (Naq jung jbhyqa'g V tvir sbe na rcvybthr nobhg Vyyhxne/Vrfxne/Zrqnve naq gurve shgher!)
--Shards of Honour and Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold: because it's another romance & scifi duology that's really all about the heroine's strong sense of justice and honour, and where the hero loves her especially for this.
--Spindle's End by Robin McKinley: and also most other books by her, because she usually has twists at the end of the book and in the romance and a similarly magical world with interesting heroines.
--Ptolemy's Gate by Jonathan Stroud: because of a twist at the end of the book that's remarkably similar to a twist at the end of Voice of the Lost. Spoiler for both: vg'f gur obql funevat.