After the cliffhanger at the end of The Life of the World to Come, I'd been eagerly awaiting this.
Now, I am eagerly awaiting Sons of Heaven, due in July.
There are some delicious scenes in this novel (especially concerning the piratical peregrinations of Alec Chesterfield &co) and a focus on philosophical themes that is, in retrospect, surprising -- not because the Company books are in any sense 'dumbed down' or trivial, but because there's such pace and wit to the narrative. Two topics for discussion: 'the child is father of the man' and 'an immortal cannot be killed'. (And who's the eponymous Machine?)
We learn more of Edward's backstory, more of Mendoza's fate, more of the machinations of the Company and those who oppose it. Baker's dark, sly humour -- epitomised by Joseph, still looking out for Mendoza and on the trail of Alec / Edward / Nicholas -- is at its best here, with some classic one-liners. ("He's screwing your daughter ... or he will be when he finds the screws.") The tone's different to the earlier novels, though: there's more direct authorial voice, and there's a definite sense of impending climax.
Mind you, I thought that when I finished reading The Life of the World to Come.