The book is an excellent portrait of life in Washington's army, and paints the conditions of the soldiers in Valley Forge in excruciating detail. It also raises important questions about slavery, loyalty, and friendship, some of which do not have clear answers. It is a book about hope, dreams, and glory, but also about suffering, fear, and loss. It is an impressive and challenging book, and one of my favorites of the year.
You need not read the first book to fully enjoy this one. In fact, I liked this much more than Chains.