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4.2 out of 5 stars20
4.2 out of 5 stars
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 29 January 2010
With the second installment of The Prince of Nothing trilogy, things really start to move forward. The first book was all about establishing the Holy War and now we get to see what the Holy War entails. Bakker writes some of the most detailed and engrossing large scale battles in fantasy and the war in general is depicted with such brutal honesty that it is clear there are no "good guys" present. Amidst this backdrop of carnage we finally get to see just how powerful and dangerous Kellhus is as he increases his influence over the those involved in the Holy War. While characters such as Achamian, Cnaiur and Esmenet are still present this is very much Kellhus' book, so those who felt he was underused previously will be delighted. While the focus on Kellhus is entertaining it does mean that a lot of the prominent characters from the first book fade into the background, most notably Conphas and Xerius, who I felt had entertaining viewpoints. The other problem is that while it exemplifies Kellhus' power there are several characters who I feel are weakened by their readiness to succumb to his will and some parts had me feeling angry at both Kellhus and his victims. Then again it is this uncompromising and dark approach that makes me appreciate Bakker as the best of the current bunch of "mature" fantasy authors and with this book he demonstrates that he can deliver on a consistent basis. For anyone who liked, "The Darkness that comes before" but felt not enough happened, I would strongly suggest giving the series another chance as this is where the pay off to all the set up begins.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 12 April 2007
I read an interview with R Scott Bakker on Sffworld and there is one thing he said that sticks in my mind. "Here I was, this egghead with a small deal in a small market, casting about looking for ways to reach those I thought would love the book: world-junkies (such as myself), and those who'd abandoned epic fantasy when they went to university."
I loved epic fantasy in my youth and for years I read fantasy almost exclusively. As I got older I realized I was missing out and migrated and expanded my reading interests and also started to feel that the majority of fantasy output was clichéd, unimaginative copies of Tolkien, and largely childish drivel (David Eddings and Terry Brooks spring to mind).
I started to feel embarrassed that I ever found this stuff so enthralling, and try as I might to find good adult, intelligent fantasy, I found the task impossible. For a long time I left the genre to the spotty adolescents, battling with their hormones and trying to find the meaning of life in the words of Gandalf.
It was the work of George RR Martin that showed me that there were authors out there writing intelligent and entertaining fantasy that could still appeal to people over twenty. So to me the work of R Scott Bakker is very special. Intelligent fantasy writing with philosophical undertones, it does come across as a modern Lord of the Rings. I wouldn't burden Bakker with the platitude of `best fantasy author since Tolkien'. However, I would say that hell of a lot of thought has gone into the Prince of Nothing series and Bakker's characters are deep and a pleasure to read. If you are an aging fantasy fan looking for something that gave you the same feeling of place that you felt when first reading Lord of the Rings all those years ago, then I thoroughly recommend that you try this series. Now I can say that I find the meaning of life in the words of Anasûrimbor Kellhus (The Warrior Prophet). There are very few books I read where certain passages make me think - `that is quite profound I would like to remember that'. I've never done that with fantasy work before, but through the medium of Kellhus and Achamian, Bakker does put across some quite heavy weight philosophy.
Ignore the detractors who say his work is inaccessible. The same people gave up reading Lord of the Rings. What is worthwhile is never easy. I would agree it is sometimes difficult to sort and understand all the references to names, cultures, races and places. However, it is truly worth the effort and books are supplied with a 'Character and Faction glossary' if you get lost.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 4 April 2006
After a bit of a lean patch in the Sci-Fi Fantasy genre there are now several great authors producing quality series. Authors such as Steven Erikson and George RR Martin have redefined the genre while authors such as R Scott Baker and J.V. Jones are also producing original and gripping series; even Stephen Donaldson is back after more than 20 years!
Although I don't think Baker is quite on a par with Erikson and Martin, he's not far behind. I found the first book to be excellent and the second book follows on brilliantly, it looks like it may turn into a long series and if the quality is as good as this I can't wait for the rest.
It's just a shame that it takes so long to write a book as good as these!
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34 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on 12 July 2005
This is an interesting series with great potential, rewarding in many ways, frustrating in others, and it deserves a review. What is written below covers both novels in the series published to date.
First, the good points. Bakker has created a genuinely interesting world. There is a good sense of his novel taking place across a great gulf of time, and he puts many of his set pieces in environments that stem from his world's antiquity. His writing often flows well, and many scenes are genuine page turners. In the Consult, he has fashioned something original, particularly its skin spies, and the scenes with them are excellent, sometimes spine-tingling, in particular the ravishing of Esmenet and the unmasking of Skeaos in Book 1. His politics are ambitious and have something of the complexity of the real world, although he seems to prefer attempting to psychoanalyse his characters and their actions and choices rather than deal with the really hard work and questions thrown up by the grand political vistas he lays out. His use of dreams to allow the propagation and preservation of knowledge across centuries is also interesting, although woefully under-exploited, as are the intriguing Cishaurim sorcerors. In Achamian and Esmenet he has fashioned two well thought out, usually sympathetic and engaging characters, and in the Scylvendi chieftain Cnaiur a genuinely nasty chap caught between two worlds and loyalties and for whom we end up rooting.
Now for the critical points. This is a world supposedly under threat from an old menace, the No-God, which brought about an Apocaplypse in earlier times. However, we have to wait until the end of Book 2 before we have any inkling of what the No-God is, and why we should fear it, and as the volume ends we still have no idea what it represents, or how near it might be to a resurrection. His world is genuinely interesting, as mentioned above, but the parallels with our own world's antiquity and history are at times a little too obvious. The Nansur come across as more Roman than the Romans, and the Kian and their religion are quite obviously inspired by Arabs and Islam, even to the point of their taking the opposing Inrithi religion's holy city. This city is supposed to be won back by a Holy War called by the Shriah - Jerusalem, crusades and popes...? Additionally, we do not know what its people know or believe about the Apocalypse and Consult; too many important points, like the existence of a weapon that has killed the No-God, or that the Scylvendi once fought for it and in fact justify their traditional bellicosity out of an attempt to avenge its death, are just dropped into the narrative and never developed.
Bakker's battles, politics and tactics of the Holy War are often not credible. His battles are something out of medieval tapestries, full of characters and people for most of whom we have absolutely no affinity, and consist of waves of horsemen charging into lines of infantry. Most students of military history would agree, the cinematically stunning images of the charge of the Rohirrim in The Return of the King aside, that horses are not stupid enough to charge into disciplined footmen, although their riders might well be. One does not need to go back to antiquity or the Middle Ages to find proof of that - infantry tactics of the 18th and 19th century European wars show how cavalry was impotent in the face of footmen in square, Waterloo being the classic example. Additionally, the Holy War suffers from some quite shockingly inept leadership, and its supposed 'trial' in the desert, when it ends up massacring its camp followers and slaves, was just plain silly, and reflects Bakker's preference for psychology rather than the nitty gritty of logistics and planning.
He sets up clashing political interests, and then fails to follow up on how these interests play out, preferring some highly suspect, and at times very tedious and intractable, psychology instead. He puts great store in telling us that sorcerors are the blasphemers of this world but never really tells us why, nor why one like Achamian could still be the tutor of an heir to a throne, although his use of battlefield sorcery is imaginative. It seems that the mechanism to solve these clashing interests is Kellhus, but as a character he lacks a great deal of credibility, and it is hard to feel any sympathy for him or understanding of what he is after. The use of Kellhus involves much of the suspect and hard to follow psychology and philosophy, and Kellhus' skills in manipulation and understanding of other men are hard to believe coming as they do from someone who has spent his life in isolation with a monk-like sect that has cut itself off from civilisation for two thousand years. Where, for example, and how would he have learnt to read expressions? There is a silly scene, seemingly thrown in when Bakker realised this gap in the construction of Kellhus' character, in which he tries to explain it. It would be spoiling to reveal what it is, but the scene assumes that all men have the same expressions for the same things, and that such artificial circumstances can produce something that will be meaningful in the real world.
All that said, the series is good, one of the better recent ones, well worth a read, and all the more praiseworthy by being Bakker's first published work. As well, the final pages of Book 2 set things up nicely for future volumes.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 25 March 2006
There aren't many fantasy series that come even close to equalling the achievements of R. Scott Bakker's masterful Prince of Nothing series. No, scratch that - that aren't many series PERIOD that can touch this one for plot, characterisation and sheer creative genius. A Lord of the Rings for the new millenium. Seriously.
If you haven't read the first book, the Darkness That Comes Before, then get that first... though you might as well buy this one and the third installment too now and save yourself some time.
This series should be read by all fantasy fans, and anyone else who just likes an amazing read. The characters and places are real and believeable, with an astoundingly detailed history, and the plot sweeps you up and carries you away. This is fantasy on a truly epic scale, involving a holy war, political intrigue, huge, well-described battles and one of the most charismatic characters ever created: Anasurimbor Kellhus, the Warrior-Prophet of the title.
There has never been a book like this before - read, and find out just what you've been missing.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 10 April 2006
If you loved the depth of JRR Tolkien's world, Stephen Donaldson's creation of complex and conflicted characters, or George RR Martin's use of subtle politics and intrigue, you will not be disappointed in The Prince of Nothing series.
The Darkness That Comes Before was a great introduction to the trilogy, but The Warrior Prophet is a revelation. Fantasy is rarely so intelligent or thought-provoking. Recommended for anyone who is tired of wading through predictable, derivative fantasy in search of something genuinely remarkable.
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on 7 August 2015
R. Scott Bakker has written a great sequel to 'The Darkness That Comes Before'. It is not easy reading by any means but there is so much here that is intelligent, thought-provoking and dark. This is how epic fantasy should be ..... dark, intense, deep with elements of horror. This is no children's book at all. There is no such pretence of good or evil and every character is flawed.
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on 18 November 2015
Absolutely wonderful stuff, whilst the subject matter is much darker than the typical fantasy, the author handles it professionally rather than gratuitously. Immersive prose intellectually stimulating plots and characters.
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on 2 August 2013
I did not like this book. Very long and boring except the final third of the book. I only read this book because I have bought the trilogy in one go, it also the only reason why I will read the 3rd book.
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on 6 August 2015
This is hands down one of the best book series ever written. Itś magical! The language, dept of character, story line etc it fantastic
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