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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 14 March 2009
This is a brilliant book, every bit as good as the first trilogy. Now I have read many reviews that the first trilogy was to difficult to read or at time there was just to much Philosophy. Personally I thought the first three books were spot on but for those who didn't and read the series and are a bit nervous about starting this sequel, fear not The Judging Eye is a bit more mild in those regards.

This however doesn't take away how brilliant the start to this series is, the writing is amazing, I think the only author who bests Bakker with his writing skill is Erikson but the writing styles differ enough to set them apart. The story line has come along a great deal as one would expect based twenty years after the previous books, the main characters are all there plus some amazing new ones and thick and juicy plot lines for them.

I will give one warning however, if you have just noticed this novel here on Amazon and think it sounds great, DO NOT BUY! You really need to read the first trilogy to even Begin to understand The Judging Eye. If you're interested and you should be, I envy you. I would love to go back to when I read the first trilogy just experience the story for the first time again.

Enjoy! You're in for a hell of a ride.
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on 12 June 2009
A most entertaining and welcome addition to Scott Bakker's 'Prince of Nothing' trilogy.

This book follows the independent tales of Kellhus and Drusus Achamain (Akka) in a period of time that follows Kellhus becoming the God-like, Aspect-Emperor. In addition, the book focuses some attention on Kellhus's wife Esmenet and, in what appears to be a major developing side story, their son, Kelmomas.

The book is extremely well written and easy to follow, with chapters alternating between the different characters stories. Chapters tend to end leaving you wishing for more and eager to get back to that particular tale.

I enjoyed this book much more that Bakker's trilogy ending 'The Thousandfold Thought', which seemed to me to contain a great deal of philosophical discussions that I personally found somewhat difficult to follow and understand. By comparison this novel was more 'story' and thus easier to understand and a joy to read.

In addition to a well written story with great characters the book features (as per all previous Bakker books) an excellent glossary of character names with a brief description of their roles. It also has a great map of the area involved. And last but not least there is a brief summary of the story of 'Prince of Nothing' trilogy so you won't be totally lost if you don't read the initial trilogy.

Conclusion:

Bakker is back; this is as fine a continuum as I could have hoped for to one of my favorite fantasy/adventure series. I can hardly wait for the next installment. Easily 5 Stars.

Ray Nicholson
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on 1 March 2010
This is a welcome return to the Three Seas, full of high politics and personal drama. We have the beginnings of an explanation of the mystery that is the Nonmen. We have two interesting new characters - Cleric and Mimara - and an arcane defence against Kellhus' power to read thoughts. Resistance to Kellhus is rising from the strangest corners of his Empire. Achamian's Dreaming takes on fascinating new overtones, whilst a standard element of much fantasy fiction - a journey in the dark through the haunted halls of a vanished race - is here rendered with power and precision and imagination. All this, and much much more, make for an immensely enjoyable read.

Two things undermine what is an otherwise excellent sequel to The Thousandfold Thought. First is Bakker's tendency to load his writing down with significance at every turn. Not a leaf can fall in a forest, not a stone can tumble down a mountain, not a character can blink but that Bakker has to imbue a weight of truth and philosophical musing to it. Some of it is good, but it often tends to bog his prose down. And second, whilst we can understand the personal hurt that Achamian nurses against Kellhus, whatever he might think of him Kellhus is fighting the good fight to bring down the Consult. Bakker doesn't really explain why that should be jeopardised, and presumably a man as learned and wise as Achamian would know that too.

These two elements aside, this is possibly his best work to date. Thoroughly enjoyable, atmospheric, intelligent, and often breathless with its pacing.
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on 9 September 2010
There's no mistaking that R. Scott Bakker has talent. In the Prince of Nothing trilogy he created a rich, dark and complex epic fantasy world with enough originality and vision to suck in even the most experienced fantasy readers. Despite the first trilogy seeming to end rather prematurely I decided to revisit his world for a fourth time with The Judging Eye.

Once again the depth and quality of the prose is top notch and combines his obvious literary skill with his philosophical musings, and again the world is bleak and dark and peopled with rich and well imagined characters.

If I had to find fault in anything it would be in his pacing. It seems to take him a long time to actually get anywhere. The ride is undoubtedly rich and incredibly well imagined, but at the end of the book I found myself tallying exactly what had occurred, and felt that in terms of character milestones and events it was somewhat light. It has that second act feeling throughout, which is fine as long as the trilogy ends with a bang.

But all in all a great, totally immersive experience that seems to be building nicely to an apocalyptic climax. Let's hope he gets the finale right this time as it's a story that deserves to end on a high.
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on 20 January 2016
After reading the previous trilogy I had become a huge fan of R. Scott Bakker and that hasn't changed completely with this book; he has done so much to re-create the fantasy genre, which I confess I had long since become disillusioned with, but there are aspects of this work I like and others that annoy me, so I'll give it four stars.

What I loved about the first trilogy was the (almost too blatant) link to history, the crusades especially, but also a variety of other historical cultures. Although magic played an important and real part in the world, you felt that the plot could have been similar with only very subtle magical influence. By following a holy war from the POV of many characters, as well as making it unique in the genre (as far as I know) this also allowed the first trilogy to combine many unique perspectives, while still being really taut and less sprawling than the majority of the fantasy genre (that I had become disillusioned since my teenage years).

This book keeps certain reference to history, and the characters are still gripping and portrayed with a depth rarely seen in any literature, let alone fantasy, but the historical narrative structure feel gives way to, in my view, over-typical magical fantasy. Especially one adventure sub-plot with Achamian, which felt so 'Dungeons and Dragons' that I almost stopped reading; I think this will put off some fans of the first trilogy. Also, the 'battle between good and evil' vibe, that had a subtle place in the first trilogy, now dominates more obviously and threatens turning the story into a typical 'defeat the dark lord' fantasy narrative.

But, having said that, it is still gripping stuff. I'm enjoying the second book and am willing to overlook some of the annoying fantasy tropes, mainly just because the characters are so damned good. The philosophizing complements the story nicely and Bakker's insights into the human condition are shockingly profound. If you're a hardcore fantasy fan and liked the first trilogy, I'm sure you will love it. If you're a fantasy skeptic or someone who feels they have outgrown the fantasy genre, I'd recommend the first trilogy more than this.
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on 13 February 2015
I've read quite a lot of dark fantasy recently. Some of it has been very enjoyable, notable Russell Kirkpatrick's "Broken Man" series and others, like Karen Miller's "Godspeaker" trilogy, less so. Having seen a description of "The Judging Eye" that mentioned "murderous children", I was very much looking forward to this one as well. I got a decent read, but it didn't turn out to be quite as dark as I was expecting.

Anasûrimbor Kellhus is the ruler of the Three Seas, acting as both emperor and God to his people. Having conquered the large part of the empire, he is attempting to bring the rest under his control. His main target is the far Northern city of Golgotterath, which he believes is sheltering the followers of the No-God, who has warred against the Three Seas before and which may be planning a return.

As Kellhus is away preparing for his war, matters at home are gathering pace. The members of the Cult of Yatwer, who do not worship Kellhus anticipate the return of the White Luck and unrest against Kellhus is growing. Meanwhile, Kellhus' youngest son is planning for his future at the age of seven by killing his twin brother and using his powers to bend his mother to his will. In another part of the world an exiled sorcerer believes he is close to finding the truth about Emperor Kellhus' origins and sets out on a dangerous journey towards knowledge.

The story is very well plotted, with each sub-plot concentrating on a separate aspect of life under Anasûrimbor Kellhus. His sections of the story cover the effect he has on conquered nations as a god as well as a conqueror and it's an interesting look at how someone like him could bend people to his will in that way. The story has a decent psychological and philosophical edge to it as Sorweel, who has seen Kellhus kill his father and conquer his city, battles against what he has always believed and the effects that Kellhus has on him and those around him. This part of the story is something not often covered in fantasy novels and it was certainly the most fascinating part of the story for me.

The other parts were a little more familiar, as the sub-plot covering events back at home was more of a politically motivated one. The idea of a religious order rising up against someone who claims to be a god isn't especially new and members of the court jostling for position has been done so well before, particularly by Fiona McIntosh. It was an unusual step to see a seven-year-old being one of those playing the political game and being inspired to murder at that age and I did enjoy that part of things, especially being able to wonder what he may become later on.

Even more familiar was Achamias' journey on his hunt for the truth. Whilst this was the most exciting part of the story as it had the most action, it was also the most familiar. He travels with a band of people, under the ancient mountains and through the long abandoned stronghold of Cil-Aujas, where the Sranc set upon them. This whole part of the story reminded me very much of "Lord of the Rings" and the journey through the Mines of Mordor, especially where the character Cleric did some very Gandalf like things. Admittedly, if you're using a fantasy book as a base for an idea, then "Lord of the Rings" is a fine one to use, but after the originality in some of the other ideas, it just seemed all too similar to other books.

The other main struggle I had with this book was that it wasn't a terribly easy read. The pacing varied from section to section, changing with the sub-plots rather than as it evolved, especially towards the end when Achamian's battle through Cil-Aujas reached its height. It often switched from the slow pace of Sorweel's understanding of the nature of God to a tumult in the tunnels and back again, which was a slightly unsettling reading experience. At the beginning of the book, when events were just taking shape, the change of pace between the sections was less severe and the book just felt slow paced at that point, but the further into Achamian's journey the story went, the more pronounced it became.

In the early stages of reading the book, I didn't feel as if I was enjoying it, but as events progressed, it started to feel a lot better. It's certainly not the best book I've read recently and it was very slow going, but I think that my feelings about this will change when later parts of the series become available. There is a lot of room for manoeuvre in the story arc and, much like Kate Elliott's "Shadow Gate", I feel that what happens in the future may make this book seem better as I get more perspective on it. At the end, I felt better about what is to come than what had passed, but I admire the skill of a trilogy writer who leaves me wanting more. This book made me feel like a greyhound chasing the mechanical hare, in that the thrill of the chase feels more tempting than catching the hare ever would be.

This review may also appear, in whole or in part, under my name at any or all of www.ciao.co.uk, www.thebookbag.co.uk, www.goodreads.com, www.amazon.co.uk and www.dooyoo.co.uk
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Being huge fans of the original trilogy that brought the author to our attention we really couldn't wait to see what would happen with a revisit to the world.

What we got was a tale which whilst an introduction for the uninitiated is a tale that really stood out clearer than the original. The descriptive and prose is not only smoother but superior to the original demonstrating that the author not only seeks to improve their work but seeks to perhaps set the fantasy world even more alight with his creativeness. A great offering and whilst the majority of people coming to this are going to be established fans it can be picked up by a complete newbie with no prior knowledge.

That said I did feel that one of the characters was a sad let down (Esmenet) and felt almost as an after thought to back up the superior (Achamian) which whilst will prove their worth in later novels felt almost like a forgetten add shortly prior to deadline. I'm hoping that things will continue in a similar way to the authors original trilogy and whilst had this been a new author I'd have been worried, I'm sure that Bakker has something special planned.
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on 18 August 2010
The Darkness That Comes Before is one of the best fantasy books I ever read. Part 2 and 3 of the series were still enjoyable but not as good.
But now is R. Scott Bakker back on the track. His story is still dark and complex but still very imaginative. I can't wait for the sequel, because this new book is only just the beginning.
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on 22 June 2009
I am just glad I read this while on holiday. Its not quite as polished stylistically as the first trilogy, there are a couple of Americanisms in the dialogue that don't fit, but that's a minor gripe. Obviously the first books were a labour of love. If there is a small reduction in quality to produce a second trilogy quickly I don't have any complaints. I think I read some early reviews which slated the book, so I was vaguely expecting to be disappointed, but I couldn't put it down. And I saw the sunrise getting through the last third. Which I haven't done for many years. I would be amazed if this story arc is concluded in two books. I cant wait for the next one. And am loving Cleric and the Veteran.
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on 28 January 2014
I found myself wishing the book had more of the philosophy and inner monologue of the previous series but definitely appreciated the fact that Bakker still isn't missing any beats. It's a fantastic start to the series and I couldn't wait to get stuck into the sequel, which is currently giving me everything I want.

His books aren't "perfect" but if you like to gorge yourself on brilliant world building and genuinely disturbing themes then read em all.
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