Definitely stronger than the first one, even if the world does still seem a little too shiny. I mean, there's more than one passage pointing out that even the people covered in mud are quite clean, and the only time someone takes the time to clean blood off of a blade, it's invisible blood.
He may be doing too good a job with the prophecy/conspiracy aspects. I do not believe he can resolve just what he's put on the table in this one in three books. But, television has conditioned me to mistrust anything that seems too interesting a set a of puzzles.
I'm going to keep reading these mostly to see if the robot monks are building a spaceship to take the chosen people to the "moon". I don't know if I'll make it, though. I'm already tired of what appears to be a recurring theme of isn't-family-great-for-giving-your-enemies-something-to-manipulate-you-with.