Wow, holy back story, Batman! We get some serious history on the fall of the city of Cselkcess and some very awesome implications for what that means for the history of alchemy as a whole. I love how all these pieces are falling into place and it shows that Arakawa has been planning a lot of the story from the beginning and it is totally awesome to see it all come into play bit by bit as this story unfolds. I also really like the use of Jewish mythology, and Kabbalah, as symbols and metaphors to help explain the roots of various parts of alchemy. It ends up working out really well and giving real depth and meaning to the "science" behind the world built here.
There were two parts where the cleverness of the characters also really comes into play. The first bit of cleverness is where Hawkeye passes on a message to Mustang in a code that is particularly ingenious. I was totally willing to go for it because it was obvious the two have been working together for a long time and it is possible they worked out something in advance. The other bit of cleverness comes when the child princess May Chang makes some intuitive leaps about Scar's brother's notes that I almost thought was a bit unbelievable. Then again she is royalty, is obviously very clever and mature for her age to have traveled to another country alone across a desert, and also seems to be able to match wits with Alphonse and you know the Elric brothers are too clever for their own good already.
I really enjoyed this volume in the series, I liked watching the good guys get smart and start to work together within the confines of essentially being pinned to a board by the homunculi. They are going to need all their wits about them to take down someone as obviously powerful as "father" is revealed to be in this volume. The history of the homunculi and how they came to be show that they are many things, but weak and stupid they are not.