I'll try to limit the spoilage but if you're looking forward to this title (and you should be) you might not want to hit the cut.
The downtimers aren't stupid, the uptimers aren't always right. Sometimes the downtimers hand the USE some nasty surprises. And its how they react on each side that makes the story. Oh, and the occasional romance or two. :)
Second thing: it aint about the battles, its about the negotiating table afterward.
This is a trend I've been noticing recently in Eric's work in particular: how you win the peace in the conferences after the battles often gets as much screen time in the books as the battles that make the conferences possible. [Aside: The Arkansas War it was more about setting the framework for a future peace but the same tone applied] I'm not complaining about this, indeed I applaud it as it means that the battles won by the USE have a point.
But what goes on in those conferences in the aftermath of raging battles and desperate (well, sort of) escapes is again about the people.
Third its hard to tell which bits are written by Eric and which bit by David. I think the naval battles were mostly David but the overall style throughout was smooth and consistent. Which kind of explains why I devoured it so quickly I guess...
Looking forward to when the hardcover comes out so I can sit down and read it properly. :)