<div>I found it obvious, but I didn't think of Conrad as an idiot. He was just a kid and didn't know anything <em>but</em> to trust the adults in his family. He was smart in his own way, working out small rebellions. His uncle's obvious, simple betrayal was worse because it was obvious and simple and deliberately taking advantage of a child's incredulity. Conrad has to grow up and learn that the people in his life have deceived and hurt him, but he manages to do that without becoming too bitter and twisted.
<div>I agree about some of the most interesting things happening off-stage, but I always find that with DWJ. No matter how fascinating the book, it seems that there is always something even better happening in the wings - elaborate mythologies that walk briefly through the book with a smell of snow, passionate romances which no-one hears about until they're sealed, treachery and politics behind closed doors and marvelous characters who appear for a scene but so obviously have marvelous stories of their own which we don't get told. Frustrating, but wonderfully so.