THE WARRIOR-PROPHET – R. Scott Bakker (2005)

The Warrior Prophet I dropped out of this book after 200 of its 600 pages, and that kind of makes me sad.

I really liked the first book of The Prince Of Nothing trilogy: I read 54 books last year, and The Darkness That Comes Before was one of the 10 best.

This second installment is so much of a disappointment, I don’t even feel like explaining why. I’ll try anyhow, but I’ll keep it short.

Bakker explains why this is such a lesser book himself, in the first sentence of the acknowledgements that precede it:

Since I had over fifteen years to write TDTCB, I really had no idea what I was getting into when I committed to finishing The Warrior-Prophet within one year.

It was a rush job. Plain and simple. The writing has deteriorated to a degree that’s hard to believe. There’s three big problems:

The plot seems to not move forward. By page 80 not a single new thing has happened. Boring. I thought things would get better when the action starts, but the first big battle scene lacks the poetry of the first book, and feels clunky & predictable. So if even the action isn’t redeeming, why keep on reading? I tried, but kept on being bored.

The characters seem to have lost their depth. In the first chapters Achamian keeps on repeating he is in doubt for pages and pages and pages. We get it. Move on, Bakker. Kellhus is a kind of superman – that was obvious in the previous book too – but it seems his Bene Gesseritish nature only gets more and more cartoonish. As for the side characters, all the nobles and generals seem interchangeable and generic, and seem to behave like children. To me, they felt like names and names and names, not characters.

And last but not least: THE PROSE. Leaden, clumsy, often pompous, with a lots of unnatural dialogues that made me cringe. There’s also lots of irrelevant details that could be mistaken for detailed world building with actual depth.

Wrapping an arm around her waist, Achamian led Esmenet to Xinemus, who stood chatting with Bloody Dinch. When he introduced her, Xinemus merely offered her a perfunctory greeting, then pointed to a faint swath of smoke across the eastern horizon. The Fanim, he explained, had infiltrated the mountains and had struck across the highlands. Apparently a large village, a place called Tusam, had been taken unawares during the night and burned to the ground. Proyas wanted to survey the devastation first-hand – with his ranking officers.

He explained! He? He, Cromwell?? From a place called Tusam?

Walking. The city whores called those who followed the Columns peneditari, the “long-walkers,” a word that often became pembeditari, the “scratchers,” because many believed camp-whores carried various infestation. Depending on who asked, peneditari were either as worldly and thus as admirable as castle-noble courtesans, or as polluted and thus as despicable as the beggar-whores who laid with lepers. The truth, Esmenet would discover, lay somewhere in between.

What a giant cliché. What a boring sentence. And thus I stopped reading.

And I haven’t even discussed Bakker’s constant repetition of the supremacy of logic. We get it! You’re getting a PhD in philosophy!!


15 responses to “THE WARRIOR-PROPHET – R. Scott Bakker (2005)

  1. Heh, another voice warning against Bakker, it seems there’s no point in even starting this trilogy… at least the books look good on my shelf 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lots of people seem to like it, but I get the feeling it’s often a love-hate affaire. I really wanted to like this, but it didn’t work out.


      • By the time I got halfway through the second book I wanted to punch Bakker in the mouth for wasting my time, and then all the people who recommended it. It’s incredibly boring. It’s not offensive, except offensively tedious. It’s grimderp and pretension.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Bakker apparently had some deep philosophical foundations for the series, and while I agree with lots of what he wrote on his blog – and find it extremely interesting to boot – for me how he translated it to the novel form didn’t work. If I remember correctly (haven’t reread my own review), my main beef was with the prose and the repetition. The repetition made it a bit boring at times indeed.


  2. I try to read the books I start to the very end, but with this one I was really hard-pressed too ;). I guess we won’t be comparing notes on the third installment anytime soon… a shame, but totally understandable. I wonder what your thoughts would be on Abercrombie though – if you have time and patience for another “grimdark”, I suggest you give him a try.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I liked the first book of The First Law, but dropped out too with book two. The reviews are on my blog, I’m not sure how they hold up, they are among the first reviews I wrote.

      Generally Abercrombie feels even worse than Bakker, too pulpy for me, with a YA simplicity. At least the first book of Bakker had depth.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Too bad to hear this. I read this trilogy when I was 26 and I loved it. The followup series impressed me even more, making it one of the best series of all times for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’d love to say yes, because the mystery of Kellhus’s role and Bakker’s larger thesis only starts to emerge while reading the whole thing. Kellhus is much more than a mary sue. In the second series he is only regarded from the perspectives of other characters who try to understand his motives while he in effect takes possession of mankind. It is like a color-negative version of the lord of the rings. The “supremacy of logic” what you say is not Bakker’s point at all. Showing Kellhus gaining power does not mean that Bakker endorses that. In effect, he shows how Kellhus and his ilk collapse things like love and worship to travesties of power and control. There are multiple conflicting realities in this series, by design. However, the events of book 3, the Thousandfold Thought, are essential to understanding the story. The prose gets better but remains overwrought. Still, the final 3 books (5, 6 and 7) are the most epic fantasy novels I have read since…. maybe certain Malazan books. They make Sanderson’s novels look like cartoons for kiddies.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s very insightful, thanks! Somebody on FB told me that the second series starts with a “what came before”-section, so I might take my chances and start again there in a year or so. If you say they are even more epic than Malazan, I should at least try.


      • It does indeed have a what-came-before section that summarizes the PoN trilogy in a few pages, but much information is lost in that. The overall structure is that PoN ends with kellhus being supreme emperor of a united mankind (with only Achamian denouncing him as a sociopath), and the second series covers his grand march north with a giant army to confront the Consult.

        Liked by 1 person

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