I might be in minority here, but I like the first book more. It has much more complicated plot with a lot of parties backstabbing and double-crossing each other. The second book has fairly straightforward plot, more or less predictable and without any big twists.
The action takes place in a different place of Malazan Empire with completely different cast of characters. It does not help any that the only four overlapping characters from both books are the least interesting ones. People wander in the desert for quite a big part in the book, without any progress. Very minor spoilers for the beginning of the book regarding the plot: a rebellion is brewing in the Seven Cities - nobody cares; a bunch of people wander around in the desert, seemingly endlessly.
Still, by itself this is a good book which (in my opinion) does not quite live up to its predecessor.