I've read there are 80s publishing reasons for the first two Lioness books being whirlwinds, but this one slows things way down. And I like it better for it, as a grown-up reading now. I read another review that spoke to problems in the way Pierce wrote of the Bazhir, who (both in this book and the first one) are written as a ignorant and savage culture. In the Woman Who Rides Like a Man, Alanna infiltrates this culture and becomes something a savior (also related to events in the first book) that enables her to make more changes within this male-dominated foreign culture than she has (so far) actually made within her own. Jonathan also swoops in to become a hero/savior to them. Are these things problematic? Why yes, possibly; I think it's a very fair critique.
I like how Jonathan is revealed to be the whiny, paternalistic brat he truly is and that Alanna holds her own and never marries him. This is not something I really appreciated as an kid, and so was a great story for me to read at the time. As an adult, I can see how their relationship was problematic from the beginning as he, being older and more powerful and the Prince and also one of the only people who knew she was female, kind of took advantage of her. Especially when you compare him to George. I think Pierce wrote these relationships very conscientiously, which is one of the things that's made this series stand out for so long.