Book Review: The Thousandfold Thought By R. Scott Bakker

The Thousandfold Thought

Genre: Fantasy, Fantasy Dystopia, Dark Fantasy
Series: The Prince of Nothing
Author Info: http://www.rscottbakker.com blog: http://rsbakker.wordpress.com/

Warning: This review may have some minor spoilers.
Review for the first book.
Review for the second book.

The philosophical and intellectual aspects of this book are very impressive just like the first two books of the series. I really sympathized with Drusas Achamian, and while Kellhus dropped my jaw in the first two books, I couldn’t help but curse him in this one. The climax scene of Cnaüir was excellent just as I expected. Though the war scenes in Shimeh, especially those involving the sorcerers were unnecessarily long and even boring in a few places, but in general it is a great book.

The first two books made me expect ultimate glory for Shimeh and I must say I was a bit disappointed with the prolonged battle scenes. They were far too long and the constant switching of POV in repetitive scenes was confusing. Perhaps that is due to the fact that all of the characters involved in the Shimeh battle were the rather flat characters I didn’t connect with. The only parts I was excited about were the ones involving Conphas and Proyas, and that is because these characters were much deeper than the others involved. If the author had spent more effort on building up the grandmaster of the Scarlet Spires character, his scenes would interest me far deeper, I think.

I must say I am utterly disappointed with Conphas. I was expecting him to duke it out with someone rather than fizzle into the void like that. His escape in the second book was quite brilliant, so his arrival in this book turned out as flat as it can be. I also expected a more glorious arrival of the Padirajah’s heathen army, it was obscured by too much dust and debris.

Another thing that bothered me in this book is the repetition of the phrase ‘Death came swirling down’ one too many times. It’s repeated in the first two books too, but hardly noticeable. In this book it was just too many, like R.A. Salvatore’s whirlwind scimitars. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of R.A. Salvatore, but repetitions really bother me for some reason. Now, after ranting about it, I hope I don’t fall into the same trap in my own books!

I especially enjoyed the dialogs involving Kellhus, Achamian and Möenghus. Those were really, really well done. The book has a very nice closing, but not everything gets wrapped up, leaving the door open for the subsequent series (The Aspect-Emperor) where the story continues. I am planning to read those after I finish reading the Kingkiller Chronicle series.

Rating: 4/5 Roman Solidus

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Book Review: The Warrior Prophet By R. Scott Bakker

The Warrior Prophet
Genre: Fantasy, Fantasy Dystopia, Dark Fantasy
Series: The Prince of Nothing
Author Info: http://www.rscottbakker.com blog: http://rsbakker.wordpress.com/

This is a spoiler free review. Read the review for the first book here.

This book lives up to the expectations set in the first book in terms of intellectual depth and character development. The holy war marches on and the trials and tribulations the host goes through are beautifully depicted. We see more atrocities from the terrible Consult, and more about the histories of the characters are uncovered. The battle scenes are much better and easier to read than most fantasy books I have read, they are quite realistic when I compare them to the battle scenes I have read in chronicles from 1000 years ago. The author has undoubtedly done in depth research on historical battles. Also, he writes the battle scenes form the point of view of multiple characters, which makes it more interesting and far from boring.

I must add that there are some ultimate badassery scenes here which have blown my mind.

After reading this book, the readers are divided whether Kellhus is the hero or the villain. Along with Kellhus, we glimpse the transformation of many of the characters, including the supporting characters, which is done brilliantly while the complex plot is unfolding some more.

Though this book has more graphic sexual and violence scenes (including very sick, twisted stuff) than the first book, so it’s definitely not for the faint of heart or the more conservative readers. But the intellectual depth and the philosophical aspects, along with the brilliant character development are jaw-dropping awesome.

Rating: 5/5 Roman Solidus

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Book Review: The Darkness That Comes Before By R. Scott Bakker

darkness

Genre: Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Fantasy Dystopia
Series: The Prince of Nothing
Author Info: http://www.rscottbakker.com blog: http://rsbakker.wordpress.com/

This breathtaking debut by Canadian author R. Scott Bakker is the first book of The Prince of Nothing trilogy and in my opinion it is greatly underrated. Bakker was a Ph.d candidate of philosophy and his education definitely shows in his writing. If you are into dark fantasy and character driven stories, this is absolutely a must read. It can be a bit difficult to get a grasp in the first 70 or so pages due to the alien nature of the setting and the strange names, but once the story elements start to unfold, your mind will be blown.

Bakker has written each character in impressive detail with very complex background stories, conflicting emotions and and world views. All of the lands, cities and nations are richly detailed with their histories, culture, architecture and religious beliefs. Bakker stated that it took him 15 years to write this first book in an interview, and it definitely shows as you delve into the depths of this amazingly detailed world.

The whole setting is very foreign and original -though not that foreign for ancient history buffs- yet extremely realistic.Two of the main characters, a strong willed savage Scylvendi barbarian called Cnaüir and the godlike, mysterious and  charismatic traveler called Anasûrimbor Kellhus both represent the übermensch concept of Nietzsche, although they are quite opposite to each other in every way and it’s impossible to tell which one is the hero and which one is the villain.

The other two main characters are Drusas Achamian, an intelligent sorcerer from the ridiculed Mandate school whose mission is to fight the mysterious and stealthy evil faction called The Consult, and his paramour Esmenet. Esmenet is a low caste prostitute and she is a woman of sharp wits and strong character. The complicated relationship between her and sorcerer Achamian adds a touch of tenderness to this dark and dystopic story.

The fates of the main characters intersect in a great crusade-like holy war marching to conquer the heathen kingdoms and the complex plot is woven between the progress of the holy war, the warring factions within it and the mysterious enemies plotting terrifying schemes. Bakker has done an impressive job with the complexity of the main characters. Most of the supporting characters are also quite well done. My only complaint is that some of the supporting characters are not as deep and they look a bit two dimensional next to the others. I am especially disappointed with Exalt-General Conphas, who seemed quite promising in the beginning and turned out flat as the story progressed.

This book and the entire trilogy stand very far from the typical fantasy literature cliches and tropes. You will not find the typical heroes and villains, Tolkienesque elements, dragons, etc. in this series. It is highly philosophical and made me question a lot of things about life, though the philosophical elements are deftly immersed into the story and far from boring.

If you are into mental chess games, philosophy, glorious battle scenes and high brow intellectual vocabulary, you will totally lover this book and the entire series for the matter. However it’s not for the faint of heart, for there are very graphic violence scenes, an ample amount of gore and explicit sex scenes.

Rating: 4.5/5 Roman Solidus

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