This book is going by too fast. I'm more than halfway through already. The pacing is quite uneven - the sections in Antea, revolving around Palliako and Kalliam, are great, while the Porte Oliva section involving Cithrin and Wester has been treading water. I think Palliako is a magnificent villain, and my appreciation of Dawson Kalliam has grown. He was something of a subsidiary figure in the first book, even though he got a lot of time. Here he's in the thick of it, and he's an interesting character - like a more realistic Ned Stark, perhaps.
Cithrin hasn't gotten to do any sophisticated financial stuff, which disappoints me. But she did get a great line. Nobles hate bankers, she says, because bankers don't respect class boundaries:
We don't because we lend at interest. A wise loan can make a poor man rich. An unwise one can unmake the powerful. We're the ones who can move the coins from one side to the other, and we take our living from doing it. We're agents of change, and the people with the most to lose are right to fear us.
She's describing, in a nutshell, the rise of modern society out of feudalism, ushered on by the invention of banking in medieval Italy.