Adam the Butcher (he was not a very nice guy, thus the nickname) practically created an empire of Athesia by cutting chunks of neighboring kingdoms Eracia and Caytor. He also managed to give peace to all mentioned kingdoms and nice mutually profitable trade. The trade and Adam's reputation kept his neighbors in check. The story starts with Adam's death. His young daughter now has the responsibility to maintain his legacy, but Eracia, Caytor, and southern kingdom Parus suddenly recalled all of the old grievances and see a good chance of getting even. Lots of wars - small skirmishes and large-scale invasions follow.
The first book ended with what I thought a cliffhanger. This one starts 18 years later with practically no explanation of what happened in between. To my complete surprise I did not feel cheated as all the answers were given later by tiny bits; this was masterfully done and I really cannot recall anybody else doing this so successfully.
The characters - while interesting and none of them being black and white - for some reason failed to make me care about any of them, with one sole exception. A particularly interesting example of why it happens would be Adam's widow. She abdicated the throne essentially forcing her young and inexperienced daughter to plunge into cut-throat politics right away. One might think she would at least provide some counselling to her, but she can easily win the Most Useless Person of the Year award in this department.
As to my overall impression of the book it would be summarized in a short sentence: this is exactly what Brandon Sanderson's second book of Mistborn trilogy was. It feels slow after the first book with plot pace picking up occasionally, but slowing down shortly to see a lot of characters with POV wondering around and undergoing developments, but otherwise doing very little. This feels like a set-up for the next instalment of the series.
It is not a bad book, but it is really slow after the first one regardless of all the military action. It does make me eager to read the next one though. The final rating is 3.5 stars.
I am also happy the third novel is out as I am curious to see the continuation of the story.
This review is a copy/paste of my LeafMarks one: https://www.leafmarks.com/lm/#/books/810697