I figured it out. 'The Dome' was lackluster for a very good reason. I noticed it as I finished up The Fall Of The Shell. Also I noticed a pattern that is emerging. In The Breaking Of Northwall Jestak is just getting back from a journey. He had been sent on a mission to go to The Eastern Cities to learn law and to open trade between them and the Pelbar. Along the way he runs afoul of the Pestak who enslave him. It takes some doin' but he eventually maneges to escape. He arrives at Innanigan but finds it pretty disagreeable. He again flees. This time he goes to the Eastern Islands. He stays there for awhile and then starts home and has many and varied adventures as he travels home.
Next in The Ends Of The Circle Stel finds he can't accept the constraints of the Dahmen family (that and he also would like to live) and promptly takes his leave. Along the way he meets some pretty nutty Roti, interesting Ozar, has a frightening encounter at Scule the outcast Pelbar's Place and then has a pretty epic visit at Cull. The entire time he is on the journey unbeknownst to him Ahroe is following him. She runs into many of the groups the Stel did but her journey splits at Scule's Place. She ends up at Jave and then they both end up with The Commuters before turning around and going home.
In The Dome In The Forest the travel a bit past Three Rivers to The Dome that's it Lots of political intrigue but not any travels to distant lands to meet new and interesting people. All the stuff that happens happens right there.
Alright, I am very sorry about the long winded and somewhat rambling nature of this post but it had to done to properly build up my assertion about the pattern of these first four Pelbar books and to attempt to predict the nature of the fifth book.
The Fall Of The Shell again falls into the 'two part journey' scenario like what went on in 'The Ends Of The Circle'. This is a journey down the Heart River (The Mississippi River in our time). Once again it's the extremely harsh ways of the Pelbar women that drive him out.
The action of this tale begins when an old Sentani trader named Ravell escapes from the Tusco slavers with a very unique old shell. He brings it to Three Rivers knowing that Bival would pay a premium for it since she is always on the lookout for old interesting artifacts. The price Bival is more than she has so she takes most if not all the cost from her husband Warret. She's on the way to show the shell to the Protector when the twins Gamwyn and Brudoer are getting up to some shenanigans and the shell gets broken. Bival freaks out and beats Gamwyn. Brudoer loses his shit and beats Bival with a belt.
In the ensuing confusion a series of events begin to unfold. First Gamwyn is sent to Pelbarigan because they lack the technology to heal him properly. Bival's husband Warret is super pissed because he wanted to buy a Pellute so he leaves her. Then Brudoer is locked in the basement jail.
This all happens in just the first few chapters. So just in a) you read this blog and b) want to read the book I have spoiled nothing for and feel free to read on. Gamwyn stays at Pelparigan when he recuperates he pulls a Stel and runs away. He goes on a journey to find a replacement shell. It's his journey that makes The Fall Of The Shell so great. The reader is introduced the slaving Tusco and the peaceful Atlats as well as the unfortunate Siveri. Gamwyn has dealings with all these groups.
Gamwyn's twin Brudoer has a Indiana Jonesian adventure of his own while in the jail cells at Thee Rivers.
I have indeed started the fifth book is the series 'An Ambush Of Shadows'. What made The 'Breaking of Northwall' so great was Jestak' s journey ... to The East. What made 'The Ends of the Circle' great was Stel and Ahroe's journey ... to The West. Finally,what made 'The Fall of the Shell' great was Brudoer's journey ... to The South (and Gamwyn's adventure in Three Rivers added a bold flavor to the mix). As I read 'An Ambush Of Shadows' I am noticing a trend. Stel is off on another journey ... this time to The North. Looks like I may have another barnbuner on my hands.
Further updates as events warrant.