One of the first things I noticed about this book was that it went back to the mystery style that I liked so much from the first book. It’s not really a mystery novel, since the fantasy elements of the series would make it difficult for the reader to really solve the puzzle, but it has the feel of a mystery.
The setting for this installment is completely different from the previous two books, and so the supporting cast of characters is also very different. The characters are all solid, some of them are fantastic, which makes it a little unfortunate that many of them are unlikely to make appearances in any of the other books (though I’m not sure about that, not having read the entire series).
Since the novel is set in a monastery, religion also plays a larger role in this book than it has in the previous books. Often, that’s a difficult element to incorporate since feelings about religion can be so strong. Sometimes the author’s beliefs about religion, whether good or bad, are too strong an influence on the characters, but that’s not the case here. I honestly couldn’t tell anything about the author’s beliefs from the story. The religious characters were diverse and interesting, and religion was handled respectfully, but realistically by those characters that weren’t a part of the religious order. It was an impressive balance.
The pace of the book was great. It moved quickly, but didn’t feel rushed, and the story was interesting throughout. The biggest problem I had with the book was the resolution. There was some pretty fantastical science fiction thrown in that strained my suspension of disbelief. The series in general is more of a modern fantasy, so that science fiction element also felt out of place in the world.
The biggest takeaway that I got from the book was that it opened up a lot of new things for the series. It definitely felt like a transition book, so I’m looking forward to reading the next one to see how things change in the following books.