Finally decided to track down the first book in the series and see where it all started. So very glad that I made the effort to go back to the beginning. Those background elements that I simply accepted before now have context, and some misunderstandings on my part about the primary character have been cleared up.
Pacing of the story is leisurely and gradual, building to a crescendo toward the end, and slowing to an amble in the epilogue while the protagonist explains all the connections within the story.
Overall a very pleasant read. This is a book that I would love to place in my permanent library.