As an editor, I found myself critical of the first 250 pages, which felt like they should be their own separate novella, but as a reader, I loved the entire first section and wanted more! more! more! of it. The movement between flashbacks and current story flowed almost seamlessly with a deft touch rarely seen.
This stretch of the saga starts off with our new Emperor slowly manipulating societal change for his succession planning. The Empress is also engaging in political machinations toward her preferred future. Just as these two plans erupt into conflict, a greater threat from outside challenges the Empire itself, forcing change to come much faster than anticipated.
The Wall of Storms is a great political intrigue and philosophical approach to change, and I can't wait for the next book.