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The Judging Eye

(The Aspect-Emperor #1)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  5,114 ratings  ·  162 reviews
The Darkness That Comes Before, The Warrior Prophet, and The Thousandfold Thought --collectively the Prince of Nothing Saga-were R. Scott Bakker's magnificent debut into the upper echelon of epic fantasy. In those three books, Bakker created a world that was at once a triumph of the fantastic and an historical epic as real as any that came before.

Widely praised by reviewer
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published February 19th 2009 by Harry N. Abrams (first published January 15th 2009)
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3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,114 ratings  ·  162 reviews

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Jan 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, fantasy
Despite some trepidation with the thought I keep coming back to the idea that R. Scott Bakker’s ‘Prince of Nothing’ and ‘Aspect Emperor’ series are, if not the true inheritors of Tolkien’s legacy, at least the most innovative step forward in the realm of epic fantasy that is consciously derived from the genre-changing (or creating) impact of JRRT. Most other fantasies that are obviously influenced by the Professor are at best re-treading the same, or similar, ground in fairly limited ways or, at ...more
Jun 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: epics, fantasy, reviewed
Observational aside: I will rarely reread books. Once I finish a book it is usually off to the next one, with few exceptions. In this case the sixth book in the series, The Great Ordeal, is coming out soon, a book I have waited nearly five years for, and I wanted to give myself a refresher on the entire series before it was released. I don't recall the first time I read "The Prince of Nothing" trilogy but Goodreads assures me it was before I joined this website. Since then I have read literally ...more
Jan 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
R.Scott Bakker, is in my opinion, criminally overlooked by many of the lists discussing the best that fantasy currently has to offer.

This book picks up 20 years after the events of The Thousandfold Thought and so there is defiantly a new feel to this book with new POVs characters and different plotlines. This book feels like book one of a new trilogy (which it is) and does not read like book 4 of the series. Unfortunately this means a lot of setting up is done and so two of the storylines had no
Mar 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, grimdark
This book completely blew my mind.
My main complaint about The Prince of Nothing was not being able to root for any of the characters, except for Achamian (Akka) a bit, even though they were incredibly well-developed and detailed. I just couldn’t connect with them. This definitely changes with the Aspect-Emperor books. Some of the existing main characters are there (Kellhus, Esmenet, Akka, Maithanet), Akka got hell of a lot better and far more charismatic, and there’s a whole new cast of awesome
Oct 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Bakker fans, epic fantasy buffs
Shelves: sf-fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Another brilliant book from Bakker.
Sep 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Judging Eye starts the second series in R. Scott Bakker's fantasy world, and in many ways it mirrors the first series while setting forth a broader, more fascinating premise.

It's impossible to discuss the book without discussion of the previous series, but suffice to say, all the philosophy that ladens the first book continues in this one, with the worlds key questions of metaphysics continueing to be almost, but not quite answered.

The Holy War that was the setting for the first book is over
Jan 15, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: popcorn
This is another sequel whose success is predicated on the reader knowing and caring about characters from previous volumes. The psychological depth of Bakker's earlier books is missing here, which in most cases is fine-- we've already have about 1800 pages on the inner workings of the three main characters, Esmenet, Achamian, and Kellhus. I missed the richness of perspective, though, and Bakker did introduce some new characters that could have been the lenses through which this story was told. M ...more
Therese Arkenberg
Aug 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
I cannot remember enjoying a sequel so much in years!

Although the worldbuilding behind what Bakker is now calling The Second Apocalypse is beyond complex, and a lot has happened in the 20 years since the close of the Prince of Nothing trilogy, I still felt able to dive right back into this world. I hadn't realized how much I remembered of this meticulously crafted setting--even though "Sweet Sejenus!" has been my go-to cussword for years. Bakker doesn't waste the reader's time with a long introd
Jan 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
I almost don't feel right giving this any sort of rating until I've read the rest of the trilogy, but since the third book hasn't been published yet, I guess I should put something down.

Full disclosure: I LOVED the Prince of Nothing trilogy. It's firmly in my top 10. So I wanted to love this. I've actually been putting off reading it because I know I'm going to want to blow through them all, and I obviously can't do that without the third installment. I'm giving it 4 stars now, but that may chan
Neil Pearson
Aug 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The 20 year skip forward in time is initially a shock but it works suprisingly well and gets to us to the meat of the story far quicker. Because of the passage of time we now have a very different cast and the two remaining POVs are quite changed from the last time we saw them. The new POVs are surprisingly good, Kelmomas being a favourite although Sorweel is a bit of a whiny drag (though i suspect he has a far greater role). A lot of people have complained about Kellhus taking a back seat but I ...more
Oct 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I was both hopeful and wary going into this second trilogy in Bakker's apocalyptic saga. In fact, I re-read the Prince of Nothing trilogy as much to enjoy it all once last time in case he managed to retroactively tarnish their brilliance. Fortunately, I have not been disappointed. "The Judging Eye" is very much the first volume in a new trilogy, despite all that happened in the three previous books. Twenty years have passed and new factions, conflicts and mysteries have emerged. Much like "The D ...more
Sep 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I read Bakker's "Prince of Nothing" trilogy I was mind blown, it redefined my idea of fantasy books, the astonishing uniqueness of its universe and the characters' depth marveled me so much I found myself feeling sad by the end of the third book knowing it'd be the last one; However, I was baffled to find the trilogy's ending very inconclusive. Of course my disappointed ended two weeks ago when i saw "the Judging Eye" on the Fantasy shelf, the best fantasy story ever continues!

Scott Bakker
Patrick St-Denis
May 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The long-awaited (and what should have been the final installment in The Aspect-Emperor trilogy, but has since then been split into two volumes) The Great Ordeal by R. Scott Bakker will finally be released this summer. It's been five years since The White-Luck Warrior, the second volume, saw the light, so you can understand why Bakker fans are rejoicing. Problem is, it's been a very long time in between books. And for a midlist genre author, one that never was marketed much by his publishers to ...more
Sotiris Karaiskos
Η συνέχεια αυτού του φιλόδοξου έργο, το πρώτο μέρος της δεύτερης σειράς του κύκλου της Δεύτερης Αποκάλυψης δεν μας επιφυλάσσει καμία ιδιαίτερη έκπληξη, τόσο στο θέμα της ποιότητας, όσο στο θέμα του ύφους. 20 χρόνια μετά τα γεγονότα της πρώτης σειράς η Νέα Αυτοκρατορία του θεϊκού αυτοκράτορα έχει επεκταθεί στα τέσσερα σημεία του ορίζοντα και επεκτείνεται συνεχώς κατακτώντας νέες περιοχές, πάντα με πρόσχημα την επικείμενη αποκαλυπτική μάχη που θα κρίνει το μέλλον της ανθρωπότητας. Αυτός ο συνδυασμ ...more
Oct 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Although this is technically the first book of a trilogy, anyone who has not previously read any of R. Scott Bakker’s work should most certainly not start with this book. In fact, it’s a little unclear to me why Bakker would even bother calling this a new trilogy, seeing as it completely relies on the reader understanding the events of the preceding Prince Of Nothing trilogy for this story to make much sense. Sure, there’s a detailed synopsis included (at the back of the book, though), and yes, ...more
Feb 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of The Prince of Nothing trilogy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
As much as I enjoyed R. Scott Bakker's The Prince of Nothing trilogy, there were various points in the books where they could be a chore to read. Bakker seemed to get bogged down in too much detail, and would allow his narrative voice to ramble a bit more than necessary around his characters' philosophical musings. The Judging Eye contains no such eye-glazing passages, and is in fact a downright easy read. I'm not sure whether this was a personal decision on the author's part or just a consequen ...more
Nov 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
This new series begins twenty years after the conclusion of Bakker's Prince of Nothing trilogy. Kellhus, the all-seeing Aspect-Emperor, is leading a second war, the Great Ordeal, against the evil Consult, intending to prevent the rise of the No-God. While his army continues to subjugate once proud nations, others plot to contest his domination. Nannaferi, of the Cult of Yatwer, awaits the Goddess' White-Luck Warrior, prophesied to destroy the Demon Kellhus. Sorweel, the young king of conquered S ...more
Justin Evans
May 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
For better and for worse, Bakker turned it up to 11 on this one. The psychology is more believable, more condensed, and much more revealing than in the first three books. The action is faster and more edge-of-your-seat. And the bravura set pieces are more worthy of a bravo. The first three books were more interesting than fun; this is as fun as it is interesting. Someone complained that the moral relativism is gone- well, you should read more closely, since we're told in no uncertain terms that ...more
Theodore Remington
Dec 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
R. Scott Bakker continues his legacy of inheriting Tolkien's mantle and darkening it exquisitely with his supremely multi-layered series, subverting expectations and plumbing deeper into the alien recesses of the human psyche via outlandish fantasy fiction. Despite the protagonist's inhuman behavior (which sinks — or ascends, depending on your perspective — to newfound depraved levels), I find Kellhus to be one of the most genuinely interesting characters I've ever come across. The centerpiece, ...more
Nathan Garrison
Mar 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Bakker has done it again. I loved the Prince of Nothing trilogy, and although this has a slightly different tone, it feels a natural extension of what came before. The philosophical ramblings have been toned down, allowing for a much more compact and satisfying storytelling experience. This book will join others by Bakker in the annals of all-time great fantasy sagas.
Maark Abbott
Feb 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely fantastic. Top book read in 2016 as of 20/06; further thoughts to come later.
Debdip Chakraborty
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Talk about continuing an epic with another- this goes right into the mounds of Prince of Nothing trilogy and perhaps, does one bit more.
The new characters are something to watch out for! And the writing is perhaps the best in the genre, R. Scott Bakker- take a bow!
To the Coffers, boys!
Feb 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow! Talk about terrifying. So glad to get back into Eärwa! Although, I would prefer not to be in the dark. But wow. I can't imagine-- What must it be like to write this way? Wow.
Todd Campbell
Apr 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Definitely a level above most 'epic' fantasy.
Apr 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
The The Judging Eye, by R. Scott Bakker is set twenty years after his previous trilogy, The Darkness That Comes Before, which follows Anasurimbor Kelhus in his quest to kill kill father and save the world. Kelhus is an off the charts genius Übermensch bred in the traditions of the Dunyain, a secret cult whose only goal is to breed smarter children. Having been polluted by the outside world through a dream sent by his father, Kelhus is exiled from the Dunyain and sent to kill him. I highly recomm ...more
Dec 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
Boring! I couldn't wait for this book to end. It's too bad, because I'd been waiting for the series to swing back in the direction of that first, five-star-worthy, book. Come book 4, alas, there's little of the politics and psychology and military tactics that I enjoyed earlier in the series, and a lot more of the rambling conversations and philosophical gibberish (wedged in now wherever it can with little rhyme or reason).

Also disappointing that Kellhus has flat out become a god, and all his o
Ted Cross
Jun 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As much as I have loved this entire series of books by Bakker, this one is my favorite. The journey beneath the mountain fed into my ancient love of D&D, a true dungeon crawl with all the mysteries and horrors and beauties. I wrote such a dungeon crawl into my own fantasy novel for this very reason, and I loved that as well. I'll have to return to this book again one day to read it over again. If there is any odd quirk, it's that the first trilogy I never noticed a single editing mistake, wh ...more
Aug 24, 2011 rated it liked it
I've always wanted to like these books more than I do. I've met Bakker, and he's an interesting, cool, thoughtful guy, with one of the best explanations of the innovative (rather than inherently conservative) qualities of fantasy (as opposed to sf) I've ever heard. However, all of the characters in his books are so broken--he seem to write about mad people in a mad world, and it's impossible to quite like or trust any of them no matter how much you want to. I actually have less of that problem i ...more
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Richard Scott Bakker, who writes as R. Scott Bakker and as Scott Bakker, is a novelist whose work is dominated by a large series informally known as the The Second Apocalypse which Bakker began developing whilst as college in the 1980s.

The series was originally planned to be a trilogy, with the first two books entitled The Prince of Nothing and The Aspect-Emperor. However, when Bakker began writin

Other books in the series

The Aspect-Emperor (4 books)
  • The White Luck Warrior (Aspect-Emperor, #2)
  • The Great Ordeal (Aspect-Emperor, #3)
  • The Unholy Consult (Aspect-Emperor, #4)
“I rememeber asking a wise man, once . . . 'Why do Men fear the dark?' . . . 'Because darkness' he told me, 'is ignorance made visible.' 'And do Men despise ignorance?' I asked. 'No,' he said, 'they prize it above all things--all things!--but only so long as it remains invisible.” 59 likes
“Darkness shields as much as it threatens.” 33 likes
More quotes…