Echoes of Betrayalis a direct continuation of Kings of the North. Arvid, the member of the Thieves Guild who helped Paksenarrion is trying to retrieve the necklace that had been stolen in the previous book. He is not initially very effective and he ends up in a great deal of trouble. Also, he is hearing the voice of someone who is probably Saint Gird. Gird would like to discuss Arvid’s life choices up to this point, but Arvid spends a great deal of time with his fingers stuck in his metaphorical ears in the hope that Gird will eventually get bored and go away. (Spoiler: He does not.)
In Tsaia, there is a great deal of mistrust among the nobility for poor Dorrin Verrakai. Tsaia is very strongly Girdish and they do not trust the mageborn very much or at all. It does not help that Dorrin’s family are scary, evil, and a large number of them are still at large. Things get particularly heated when two of Dorrin’s squires end up getting into trouble that is nearly fatal for both of them. Dorrin manages to fix at least some of the problems but her solutions are regarded with great suspicion.
Arcolin meanwhile is confronted by a delegation of gnomes who report that Arcolin is going to have to give up a portion of his lands to a Dragon. These particular gnomes had been set to guard a clutch of eggs. They were fired for doing an incredibly bad job of it. The section of land is too dangerous to live in because baby dragons are apparently psychotic little pyromaniacs. (Adult dragons are greatly concerned with wisdom and philosophy and appear to enjoy discussing the intersections of justice and wisdom, though they are still very scary, very big, and possibly homicidal if annoyed.) The dragon itself turns up to confirm the story and (accidentally) traumatize gnomes.
In Lyonya Kieri is dealing with the Pargunese invasion, possible enemies that he cannot identify, and the generally less than helpful presence of his grandmother the queen of the elves. The elven queen’s inability to be reliably helpful inspires a great deal of distrust in Kieri, a distrust that only grows when his ancestors reveal their own suspicions about the elves. (We also learn that elves do not seem to possess even very basic critical thinking skills, or at least, the queen does not. The queen of the elves pitches a fit when an elf is murdered and Kieri has someone take a look at the body to figure out the cause of death. On another occasion, she honestly could not understand why Kieri brought in people who would be able to locate the source of a poisoning attempt that caused a number of miscarriages.)
On top of all of that, Paksenarrion is notable by her complete absence. Just about everyone at some point in the book wonders where the heck she wandered off to. (Or that she was around, since her abilities would have made a lot of things easier.) It is as funny as it is slightly worrisome.
The main theme of this book is communication and the failure of communication. It is also about figuring things out in a level headed manner and providing verifiable proof. (And what does and does not constitute evidence.) The plot advances a little more than it did in the previous book, and there were some really great action scenes.