The second novel set in Stephen Hunt’s Jackelian World, The Kingdom Beyond the Waves, is a clear improvement from its predecessor The Court of the Air. Both stories, while they share a common setting, are self contained despite the presences of overlapping characters in both novels. (I actually read The Kingdom Beyond the Waves first by happenstance.)
Professor Amelia Harsh, who made a brief cameo in The Court of the Air to rescue Molly Templar from the criminal undercity, opens the book on an archeological expedition searching for clues of an ancient civilization called Camlantis. Representing an era of peace and prosperity in the distant past, Camlantis is regarded as heretical by the senior university officials throughout all of Jackals. This leaves Professor Harsh bereft of school funding and forced to engage in questionable personal adventures to try and find tangible proof of the Camlanteans. Unsurprisingly, the questionable personal adventure she is currently on contains questionable people who betray her once the treasure is found. She is left limping back to Jackals further disgraced and marginalized.