My memory of the first book does suggest that Gladstone has a theme of people making really bad people choices. However I'm more interested in the world-building and will let the bad choices slide. Especially as mine have never been any better.
Ganpo Abbey has a space open for a one week retreat in mid-August. Am so tempted to take it, just to demonstrate to myself that retiring to a Buddhist monastery is not at all what I want to do. Shan't, of course. Must learn to sit on floors first. But maybe next year, when the thought of being retired sings its siren song in my ear.