I have mixed emotions about this one. There's an awful lot of travelogue here, which takes some determination to get through, and I can't help but feel that the book falls prey to some of the common flaws of homage--which is to say, mimicking too closely the less-effective bits of the source material. (This is also a problem I had with The Jennifer Morgue, which I otherwise liked a great deal.) In particular, the desert sequence is on the predictable side: we all knew there was going to be a dry oasis, and a sandstorm, and then when we got to the mountains there would inevitably be an avalanche, because we have all read this book before.
It does pick up once the political intrigue starts, although I more and more want to bite Laurence as the series progresses. He's both a little too perfect and a little too stupidly honorable in ways that force him to engage with plot he has no real reason for encountering otherwise, which is also probably something I should be blaming on the source.
On the neither-good-nor-bad-but-slightly-brainh
There is much adventure towards the end, and hopeless battles, and cleverness, and that is very good. (Even if this all happens in the midst of me wanting to bite Laurence, who somehow seems to have forgotten his sworn duty and his orders, (which he's been rigorously faithful to thus far, even when he thinks they are dumb) in pursuit of the Plot.)
The baaaaaaaaaaaby dragon is awesome. She's going to be trouble for books on end, I'm sure. I'm seriously looking forward to her when she's grown.