Same characters, but acting completely inconsistently with their first volume personas. The tone of the book is darker and more mundane, with most of the action being people fighting with punches and knives on starships when the most obvious weapon would have been poison or sticky chemicals in almost every situation. And this while the Architects come back. Everybody is squabbling for no good reason and it's certainly not interesting for the reader. The main character, Idris, is now a pitifully small spacer that is being abducted by just about everyone, with Solace the Partheni being completely ineffective as protection and really poorly written as a friend/romantic interest also. And so on.
It seems to be a pattern of Adrian Tchaikovsky's to start great universes with a lot of fun and interesting characters and then go nowhere with them. I hope the third book will provide more satisfaction, because if this turns out to be like Children in Time, starting great and then fizzling out, I will not be happy.