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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 uR.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 real climax.
The first thing I should highlight is the sheer depth of Earwa. The world feels fully fleshed out and in this volume the reader meets some of the races and different cultures that were mentioned in the previous trilogy. This depth is even more impressive when you consider that the book is just above the 400 page mark which is lightweight compared to most epic fantasies currently. This shorter length is refreshing and for me another strength of the book.
Bakker has again improved his writing; it is more compact in this book than in PoN. The most noticeable difference is how he has moved some of the action out of the character's heads (which slowed down the rhythm of his previous novels) and into their actions and speech. But don't let this lack of "inside head action" make you think that Bakker has done a way with his use of philosophy, confused motives and emotionally struggling characters.
Akka and Kehllus are the outstanding characters and steal the show whenever they are present. Akka is that rare thing in fantasy a magic user who is not a young person struggling to get to grips with his/her powers, a uber powerful wizard with limitless knowledge or another over used archetype. Esmenet was interestingly developed in her new role as empress although while her development was logical I did not find her as interesting as in the PoN. There is no Kehllus PoV but that was to be expected after how the frequency of his PoV was cut down as PoN progressed.
The new POVs were the Mother Supreme of the Cult of Yatwer, a young prince whose kingdom has been conquered by Kehllus, Kelmonas who is one of the Kehllus's sons and Mimara an ex-prostitute (what else in Earwa) who is one of the Few. While none of these characters were bad, actually all of them are well though out and their development should be very interesting, and all have some good scenes (the Mother Supreme has once of those very disturbing scenes that only Bakker could write) they are not able to replace the memorable charactes of Conphas or Cnaiur from the PoN. Although I will say it again that the charcaters could become just as interesting as those two, particularly Kelmonas, and just as screwed up.
In this book there are three story lines. One following the dealings in the Three Seas while Kehllus is away, another the Great Ordeal's march and the last one Akka's quest for finding the truth of the Dunyain. Of these three only Akka's showed any real progression although it could be argued it was more action (although unbelievably well written, original and superbly paced action) than moving the story forward. But the action in this storyline is second to none.
I have been probably to critical to warrant giving the book 5 stars so I will explain. I had 5 stars worth of enjoyment from this book even if it was not as technically good as it could have been. I shall finish off the review with some positives from the book.
-It has the best homage to Tolkien ever. Simple as that. Bakker plays on your knowledge of the LOTR and then adds his own brilliant twists.
-Nonmen are the best realized immortal race I have read about.
-Kehllus' children are very scary.
-When Bakker writes dark scenes, they are truly very dark. Also he got the balance between tension and action perfectly right in the Akka storyline.
-The Gnosis is awesome.
-The "proverbs" at the start of each chapter are just as cutting and thought provoking as the ones in PoN.
I will close off by saying that in my opinion Bakker is currently the "adventurer" among the current crop of people writing epic fantasy. He is not afraid to do something new and write the way he wants to. This book offers so many tantalizing prospects that I can not imagine how the “The White-Luck Warrior” could be anything but better. It is rare for me to have such faith in any author. ...more