Top critical review
Messy anti-climax to an otherwise brilliant trilogy
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.