on 21 July 2010
I've seen many of the other negative reviews of this book and frnakly I don't understand them. 'The Thousandfold thought' isn't much harder to read than either 'The Darkness that comes before' or 'The Warrior Prophet' and it definitely isn't as dark and depressing as 'The Warrior Prophet' as Kehllus' power amongst some of the characters weaken with one seeing right through him in the end. So why all the negative reviews? I've come to the conclusion that those who give the book such negative reviews didn't like the other two books in the series and so should never have bought the third book in the first place or that by the time that got round to reading 'The Thousandfold thought' they'd forgotten all about the previous two books and so didn't understand it.
The book itself is a masterpiece of fantasy fiction subverting many of the conventions of the genre, tying up many of the storylines in the previous two books and yes leaving a few cliffhangars because in a series as in epic like this I doubt you could tie up all the storylines in three books without making it seem rushed.
Achamian -one of my favourite characters- finally comes into his own in this book and the Seswatha flashbacks which I've always found to be one of the most fascinating parts of R Scott Bakker's books are even more interesting in this book than the previous two. Many of the questions about Kehllus and his father are answered in this book and the Scylevandi also like Achamian comes into his own; we see the effects of many of the events and decisions made in the second book including some that we would never have thought of and its rare to see such a realistic and gritty storyline in any fantasy book.
In short If you liked the previous two books you'll probably love 'The Thousandfold Thought' regardless of what other reviewers have been saying and If you like rich, detailed and innovative fantasy series' you'll definitely love 'The Prince of Nothing' Trilogy.
on 20 October 2006
The final book of the trilogy, and like the Tolkien that inspired it, the final instalment is the finest.
Many reviewers seem to have missed the fact that destruction of Evil (the Consult) is not the point or intent for the Warrior Prophet who leads the holy war. This trilogy will be lost on the reader looking for a good vs. bad slugfest. The reader that wants to follow a cast of deeply constructed characters, and enjoys the build-up of characters with immense potential for power, will enjoy this series and the final payoff.
Bakker presents the reader with a violent reality, following characters that are broken and remade over chapters to create a cast that is as subtly beautiful and terrible as the desert they travel through. This is not light reading. This is a novel that demands your attention and rewards you for your efforts with the explosive conclusion in the final third of the book.
For readers of the previous novels wondering if this is worth it, it is.
on 22 June 2007
Bakker's Prince of Nothing sequence does have some merits, most notably in the characters' of Achamian and Esmenet, the complexities of their love and failures to love give the novels a sense of heart.
Unfortunately, the hero character 'Kellhus' is a serious problem. The rational for his mastery of the world into which he has been introduced, is that he's a late stage product of a multi-generational breeding and education program, which is designed to create beings capable of transcending the innate drives to which they are chained by their genetic and cultural heritage. This is done so that they can act rationally in all situations and thus master all that they confront. An interesting idea and clearly one which takes a lot from the work of behavioural psychology. The problem is that literature, and indeed all human drama, is based on the confrontations of individuals with the irrational and mostly their own irrationality, it is in the end what makes us human and interesting. Thus the 'hero' has to be seen as essentially inhuman. That is not necessarily a problem, but the way Bakker has written him makes 'Kellhus' dull and unsympathetic.
Worse though he's a mediocre copy of Paul Atreidies. Let's face it we've all been here before with this sort of end product of a breeding experiment.
So why does Dune work and 'The Prince of Nothing' fail to convince? Partly because Dune was original and this feels derivative, but much more so because of the quality of the writing. Frank Herbert, at his best was a very fine writer, Bakker is simply not that good. He throws out interesting idea's and creates a world with a great deal of depth, but his writing lacks elegance. He crams in endless long, unfamiliar and difficult names(without ever giving us sufficient reason to care about the places and people to whom they belong) and he fails to bring the requisite excitement to the action sequences (i feel he himself only writes those because he feels they're necessary for this sort of novel, but he personally is not interested in them, being far more involved in the underlying philosophical and anthropological issues).
All of which is a pity as the strengths and potential of the series are such that i feel it could have been a landmark in modern fantasy. But with it being difficult to find any reason to care for Kellhus and having to wade through acres of dense and uninspired prose about the history, philosophy and battles of this world 'The Prince of Nothing' is, eventually, a failure.
on 27 February 2010
Bakker delivers on his promise with an excellent finale to the "Prince of Nothing" series. Expect plenty of twists an revelations that lead to even more questions as the Holy war finally descends upon it's final destination and Kellhus gets to confront his father. The characters still provide the best moments in the book with Cnaiur still being simultaneously brutal yet sympathetic (his meetings with Conphas and Moenghus for example) and a glimmer of hope is seen in the relationship between Achamian and Esmenet which rectifies some of the issues I had with the previous book.
With the first "act" completed (althought the end of the trilogy, there are more to come), Bakker's fantasy epic is easily at the top of the pile out of all the GRRM - style fantasy authors of the past decade.
Okay - so we all know that the first book - The Darkness That Comes Before - was a metaphorical slap in the face that woke us all up from the generic, linear fantasy of recent years. Then along came The Warrior-Prophet which, in my opinion, was a literary masterpiece. So, with this in mind, my expectation for TTT was huge. This may account for my utter disappointment with the third story, but I can't help but feel that the story is inferior to what has come before it.
All of the ingredients are there: the Holy War finally makes it to the Holy City of Shimeh, there to reclaim what the heathen have abused. Kellhus and Cnaiur come face to face with their quarry in a war of words that would boggle the mind of Einstein. And good old Achamian, much abused, jilted and misunderstood, faces his nightmares of the First Apocalypse whilst he struggles to warm the cold shoulder his beloved Esmi shows him. Mix all of these up and you should have a satisfying conclusion (or at least extension, if this turns out not to be the last book) to the story. But for me it just fell flat. Way too much proselytizing and internal conflicts that obviously make sense and add depth to the characters in the mind of Mr Bakker, but just come off as a confusing and annoying to the reader. I read and re-read paragraph after paragraph to try and get the meaning of the internal struggles of all and sundry and just ended up completely frustrated.
I'm sure the story has tension, I'm certain the Consult get what they deserve, and I'm positive the No-God gets his well deserved comeuppance, it's just that I couldn't understand most of the cryptic fits of excellence the book has to describe them.
It would be churlish to say the writing isn't as good - so I won't, but I failed to find any of the poetic flow or clever use of alliteration that was found in the second book; a few sentences shine out, but far too few.
Was it brought to a satisfactory conclusion, I hear you ask? Well no, but then I think they'll be a fourth book - scrub that - I hope they'll be a fourth book, as everything just seems to be hanging in mid air. Yes, most of the story-lines appear to be resolved, I say appear, because it's all dressed up with the cryptic conversation and explanations that just rob the story of any clarity, so mush so that I never really knew what the hell was being accomplished or resolved.
Annoyingly enough, I enjoyed the last couple of pages the most -after all the hullabaloo has died down there's an odd moment of real tension between Kellhus and Achamian that almost makes the cryptic diatribe that preceded it worth reading the book.
Maybe a second read is warranted. Here's hoping book 4 - if there is one - reclaims the certain indefinable allure that so captured me with the first two.
on 10 December 2006
A fine conclusion to the trilogy, imo slightly better even than the previous books. Yes it does leave some cliffhangers for Aspect Emperor, a new duology of which the first book will come out in 2007, but that only heightened my anticipation.
I would agree with some complaints that the ending of some of the character isn't entirely satisfactory, though I wouldn't describe any of them as poorly done. Compared to the previous two books this one is rather short, but it does come with a superb dramatis personae/appendix of 100 pages, which will be handy reference for future books.
On the whole I'd say this book is on the level of the previous ones. The downsides are repetition in character introspection and a heavy emphasis on the philosophizing by some characters ( courtesy of the author's background). Others will find this appealing, I was more in it for the plot and characters.
What it does do is provide a tremendous set up for the next two book in which the grand overall arc of the Second Apocalypse will see The Consult come to a head with the Aspect Emperor and allies.
on 17 February 2007
The first two books in this series (The Darkness That Comes Before and The Warrior Propeht) really set the bar high: the were beautifully written, featured several complex characters and an excellent major plot with several sub plot lines. They were a little complicated in the "world" created by the books, but not deterringly so.
This one, though just as beautifully written, was a struggle to get through. Not nearly as good as the first two, and, because of the fast ending, seems like it was written under a severe deadline.
The plot obviously continues from the second book (and, people with poor memories like me will appreciate the 20+ page "what has come before" summary at the beginning of the book) where Kellhus the Dunyain has assumed control of the Holy War through logic and manipulation. Achamian is helping him, but struggling with that path, in no small part because Kellhus has taken Achamian's wife as his own (when Achamian was feared dead). Cnaiur believes himself mad or possesed or both, and follows his own path to redemption. All head for Shimeh, the Holy City now held by heathens, where Kellhus has been "summoned" to see and sent to assasinate his father.
The characters again are beautifully wrought and described, especially Achamian, Esmet and Cnaiur.
Three major complaints. Bakker asks his readers not only to enter his world, but to study it. The PB version has 100 pages of Glossary out of a 500 page book, and in some of the passages, it feels like you've got to read them all to understand what is happening. Very confusing at times.
Second, the end flys by. A lot of action and things tied up in a very short period of time.
Third, it's not an obvious end. There are many questions left unanswered, obviously a fourth book or a new series coming next.
I will continue reading Mr. Bakker's works, because he tackles a lot, presents a new version of fantasy writing different than most, and I learn a lot from his style of writing. But he set the bar high with the first two novels, and this one, while still good, is not at their level.
on 11 July 2016
After flying through the first two books I couldn't wait to see how everything came together in the end. The first and second books brought an entirely new perspective to the fantasy genre, exploring aspects of humanity which largely go untouched, or at least are only touched upon briefly by other authors. Very philosophical at times, certainly thought provoking, they combine with superb characters, slowly building them and creating a wonderful story.
Unfortunately the third book just fails to deliver on the promise of wrapping everything up in the same manner. Huge portions of the book feel as if Bakker has purposefully detached the characters from the reader and is more concerned with finishing off their tales all for himself. There are huge sections of internal monologues - at one point an entire 20+ page chapter is dedicated to Cnaiur's inner anguish and confusion, and it just doesn't need it; it could've been written using half the pages. And then, to top it off he then disappears for pretty much the rest of the book, with his final role being little more than a token gesture of 'hey, remember this guy?' Well...why bother then?!
There are still parts that are a pleasure to read: Kellhus' thread mostly continues on being good, as does Akka's. Until it all falls apart at the end. The final section of the book, when the Holy War finally reaches Shimeh, is nothing short of its own apocalypse. The book does a complete u-turn from the previous info-dump style, and lurches from one perspective to the next as it attempts to grasp all the threads and tie them together in a neat little knot. It fails, almost spectacularly. There is, within these parts, twinkles of the quality of the previous books, but they are all too short lived to really satisfy in the conclusion. And by that point the damage is already done, I just wanted to finish it, put it on the shelf and move on to something else. Which is such a shame.
I often lean towards enjoying the journey of a book rather than the destination, but for The Thousandfold Thought, both left me feeling disappointed and almost betrayed by what seemed like a selfish attempt by the author to wrest back his precious work and ignore the duty to the reader.
on 1 June 2007
The first two books in this series were relatively well-paced and refreshingly different. There were some interesting ideas mixed into the Crusades-based story and tension was building. Unfortunately the pace and tension have been diluted here.
Following a rather lengthy summary of the first two books (admittedly these are necessary) the reader has to struggle through a few hundred pages of non-activity. The story is not advanced significantly and the philosophical angle gets a bit tiresome. About two thirds of the way through the plot picks up and things begin to happen, but the book then rushes to an unsatisfying anti-climax with the promise, presumably, of a further book in the series. This is followed by a very lengthy glossary, the presence of which should, in my opinion, be viewed as a bad sign for any non-reference book.
The main character is described by turns as fat, ugly, smelly, cuckolded, and vindictive. This doesn't help if the reader is trying to sympathise with him, and the only excuse he might have (his struggles with his ancestral-dreams) don't make much sense unless you read the glossary before you read the book. Moreover, some of the chapters are introduced by his writings from a future chronicle, which effectively kills off some of the suspense by illustrating that a) he is alive and b) he can write a book after the supposedly imminent apocalypse.
The secondary characters of Esmenet and Kellhus do not spend much time centre-stage, seemingly spending most of their time drifting in and out of tents and pontificating. Cnaiur, on the other hand stays pretty active throughout the book and despite being a rather verbose barbarian he gets involved in plenty of violence.
I don't wish to be overly harsh - everyone's a critic - but I felt a bit let-down by this book. The current trend to draw out fantasy stories is not a good thing. Hopefully the best is being saved until last.
on 16 August 2007
Very very disappointing end to the prince of nothing trilogy. Sparse dialogue and confusing references to names,places and events from the first apocalypse made this a hard read. Such a shame after books one and two which were original and gripping.
Too many loose ends and a totally confusing discussion between kellhus and moenghus at the end - I still havent got a clue what the thousandfold thought actually was or referred to?!
This book seems like a poorly put together filler for the next event in Earwa.
Sad to say it but I dont know if I'll bother bearing with this series.