Flashback story takes a remarkable twist as Griffith is suddenly given a whole lot more depth and his relationship not only to Guts, but the rest of the Hawks is explored much more thoroughly. The volume ends with the beginning of Caska's tale, which I'm definitely looking forward to. This series is filled with ups and downs so far, but a lot of the valleys aren't really deep troughs, they just settle to a sort of plain of unexceptionalism. It's not bad though. Just not amazingly gripping the way some of the better parts of the narrative are. There are pages and pages of battles, which repetitively involve large ogre-like people getting smashed by Guts to the adoring cheers of his compatriots followed by a few pages of pretty damn good character and plot development.
The atmosphere of the world is interesting - dark, gritty and very George R.R. Martin with ambitious courtesans and some of the plotting - but doesn't have a lot of backstory. The world of Berserk is kind of a generic medieval nation at war for some unexplained reason. There are intimations that some of the fighting might be very reminiscent of the Sengoku period, with nobles paying mercenaries and knights to help them expand their borders and establish dominion over all, but that notion was quickly wiped away in this volume with the introduction of a King, so who knows what the hell is going on.
The good news is, some of those confusing points become irrelevant because of the driving force of Griffith's narrative. He's really an enigma and while you get some general feeling about who he is and what he wants, those motives ring kind of hollow when judged next to his actions. We'll see where this goes.