Cheerwell is now inapt, due to some mystical hokum due to her moth lover dying. She mopes about. So Stenwald sends her on an expedition to a city that is apparently full of inapt beetles. The empire of black and gold is also interested in this city, so Athric, who has been having some real issues with being married to the new empress, jumps at the chance to go.
Lots of things happen and Athric and Cheerwell get together. The city is almost taken, but the Slug kinden, who are major magicians, rouse themselves to destroy the army that has almost taken the city.
Turns out that the ghost of the mantis who killed the emperor has been haunting Cheerwell and the book ends with it going after its daughter, where ever she is, and Cheerwell and Athric following the ghost.
So yeah, a new story arc is commencing. This story continues to feel full, alive, vibrant and interesting. Information about the world is detailed enough to give you a picture of all that you don't know. Kind of like a tease. I like it.