Man, these just keep getting better and better. This is the second book of the second trilogy of the overarching Second Apocalypse story, the third (aMan, these just keep getting better and better. This is the second book of the second trilogy of the overarching Second Apocalypse story, the third (and last?) being released in 2015, if I'm not mistaken.
The first trilogy - The Prince of Nothing - reads like a fantasy take on the first crusade to Jerusalem, coupled with elements of Dune, the Silmarillion and LoTR. Imagine Aragorn going insane, and becoming a prophet with a mission to unite the whole world under an iron rule, in order to protect it against an unspeakably perverted evil out to kill every single human being.
Having achieved this, the second trilogy - The Aspect Emperor - details the ordeal of actually going out to destroy said evil, and the results of trying to do so by any means necessary, while the newly founded empire is imploding due to the insanity of the imperial family and plotting of alien gods.
I admit these books aren't for everyone. They are grimdark in the very bleakest sense, there is nary the tiniest glimmer of hope found anywhere, and the characters are invariably flawed, making bad decisions and constantly suffering the consequenses. The setting is very dark, a real crapsack world where greed, bloodlust and lechery are the driving forces of most everyone. Hierarchies of power are relentless, and a human life, least of all the lives of the millions of slaves, are worth next to nothing. Above all of this, the gods offer no solace or redemption, only eternal damnation, which incidentally is the driving force and motivation of the antagonists.
Bakker's language is quite dense, with plenty of references to names and places, in a manner that feels rather archaic (partly it reads like the Bible, or like I compared it earlier, to the Silmarillion). It is also partly very poetic. This is even more pronounced in this particular book - The White-Luck Warrior. There is often great beauty to be found in the tragic events that permeate the story. Bakker is a philosopher, which is noticeable for example in the different Schools of Magic, which are based on classic schools of philisophy. So, do not expect a light-hearted fantasy romp, featuring strong-jawed righteous heroes, or wizened wizards wearing pointy hats. Said wizard is more likely bound to be a drunken, cowardly loser, driven by petty revenge, and bound to repeating the same stupid mistakes over and over again.
Oh, and erect phalluses. There are lots of erect phalluses. Being the distinguising mark of the antagonist (yes, really), there are plenty of erect phalluses, and heinous acts being performed by the bearers of them, mostly on dead or dying people. So, you've been warned.
But, all in all, this series have become perhaps my favorite "modern" fantasy series - in close competition with Joe Abercombie's books (which, funnily I found very bleak when I first read them, but actually feature quite a bit of humor, and one or two glimpses of hope here and there - something that is entirely missing from Bakker's works). I am definitely looking forward to the next, and last, part of the trilogy....more
Set in a post-apocalyptic world, ruled by a Dark Lord for the past thousand years, this surprisingly well-crafted fantasy story manages to maybe not cSet in a post-apocalyptic world, ruled by a Dark Lord for the past thousand years, this surprisingly well-crafted fantasy story manages to maybe not completely avoid the common tropes of the genre, but at least present them in a fresh and rather innovative way.
With his cast of charming rogues, featuring a young girl with special talents as the main protagonist, Sanderson elegantly avoids many of the genre clichées. You will find no elves, orcs, grey-bearded wizards or heroes in shining armor in this fantasy world, and although the setting is pretty dark and dismal, it won't delve too deeply into the dark side either, and the story never loses itself in the misery of the setting.
A cleverly limited magic system provides consistency, as well as a bit of mystery, and this, combined with the comparatively fresh setting constitute the high points of this novel. While the characters do display some depth, the main protagonist becomes involved in a bit of romantic court drama towards the middle of the story, which unfortunately is the weakest part of the novel. In the end though, most of the plot threads are tied together quite nicely, leaving just about enough to be resolved in the sequels. Although rather obviously hinted to earlier in the story, a plot "twist" at the end opens up for a widened scope and a deepened mystery, which should entice any reader who enjoyed this first novel to immediately continue with the sequels. ...more
This is a collection of the first three Swords books by Fred Saberhagen. It features the origins of a set of twelve swords forged by the god Vulcan. TThis is a collection of the first three Swords books by Fred Saberhagen. It features the origins of a set of twelve swords forged by the god Vulcan. They are to be used in a game played by the gods using humans as pawns. However, the game does not turn out like they expect.
I found it to be ok, but it fell somewhere in between the classical pulp style of his older Berserkers short stories, and modern fantasy by more contemporary authors. This means it felt a bit flat to me - the characters were neither the swaggering heroes of old nor the more nuanced and complex ones from modern (quality) fantasy. The story itself with it's mix of fantasy and legend, dusted with a subtle sprinkling of sci-fi is an interesting premise, although unfortunately I don't think it really managed to live up to it's full potential. The ending of the third book was very abrupt and it felt rushed to me. I know that the lack of closure probably is due to the fact that there are more "Swords"-book sequels, but it still left me with the impression that the author saw a page limit approaching and quickly needed to wrap things up.
However, it was entertaining enough (let's face it, this isn't great Literature), and despite a couple of brief lulls the pacing kept me turning the pages. In summary, although a bit stylistically dated, I'd say it's good, entertaining, light fantasy fare....more