So, I finished going over the epilogue, and now I'm giving it another read-over and then printing out the chapters to read as hard copy after I take a couple of days off to get fresh eyes. I've finished chapter 8.
This makes me glad I had a writers' group and a beta reader who haven't read the first book read the first few chapters, because to me, especially now, those chapters seem so slow because they contain so much exposition. But it's clearly necessary if you aren't profoundly familiar with the fictional world and the events of the first book. And you know, when I read out a series, I do just sort of skim over the exposition in the beginning, but it's not like I resent it or anything--I know why it's there, even if I don't really need it.