I read the Chronicles of Amber years ago, both the 5 Corwin books and the 5 Merlin books. I remembered being blown away by the first 5, and less than enthused by the latter 5.
I guess I'm older and crankier now. The first 5 are still great works. The latter 5, well...suck.
I'd forgotten that the Merlin series is based entirely on his naivety to move the story along. On inexplicable bad decisions, and the convenient "oh we're not as hostile as first made out" responses of the "villains" which accommodated those terrible decisions.
But, I gutted it out. Until this one. At which point I found myself wanting to just skip through multiple pages at a time just to get it over with. At which point I figured...why bother? And put it down.
He'd been struggling with the plot up until this point. Then...he entirely gave up on it and put out this filler book. It reads like a sub-adventure in the life of Merlin. It has nothing to do with the three books that came before it. At least, that was the case 55% of the way in, at which point I just couldn't be bothered anymore.
Do yourselves a favor. Read the first 5 Amber novels and then ignore the second 5.