Monday, June 4, 2012

Book review: "The White-Luck Warrior" by R. Scott Bakker

Just finished "The White-Luck Warrior" by R. Scott Bakker. This is the only paper-book I bought since I acquired Amazon Kindle, because there is no e-book version available. Since I am from Croatia, I had to order Kindle from USA Amazon, and there are no e-book versions of books from The Second Apocalypse series available for USA market, although there is for UK market.. There is a trick for bypassing this: you just have to change your address to UK. But there is a change of Amazon finding out and blocking your account, so I didn't want to risk it.

I liked the first three books in the series ("The Darkness that Comes Before", "The Warrior-Prophet" and "The Thousandfold Thought"), although the second one was not as good as the first, and third one even less so. But "The Judging Eye", which started the second in-series trilogy, happening some 20 years after the first, was simply great: the best book in series so far. "The White-Luck Warrior" is also a good book, but not as high-strung as TJE. In fact, TWLW is a typical middle book in trilogy, so much that these two could be read as a single book. It continues the plots started before and it doesn't introduce any new moments. But it concludes some of the lines and prepares are for the finale of this trilogy: "The Unholy Consult"

There are three main plots, made obvious by separation in chapters. One is the journey of the Great Ordeal (combined armies of almost all humanity, gathered by the Aspect-Emperor, Kellhus Anasûrimbor) to the Golgoreath, the seat of the Consult, servants of the No-God and their enemy. This part is seen mostly from the eye of Sorweel, a young King of Skarpati, recently conquered by Kellhus. He finally starts to understand what his purpose is, even though he feels constantly under pressure and lure of Kellhus' supremacy. His POV is sometimes interrupted by short scenes from point of view of Nersei Proyas, which gives us the only insight of what Kellhus plans and does. But more often, it is interrupted by almost encyclopedic descriptions of the battles against Sranc and difficulties the Great Ordeal suffers. These parts are done very good, nicely depicting the overwhelming power of the Sranc Horde.

The second is is told exclusively from the perspective of Drusas Achamian and Mimara Anasûrimbor (well, except one or two very short exceptions). There is not much to say about this part - they are still traveling with the Skin Eaters. This plot-line was the most interesting part in TJE; here it changes to more metaphorical journey that a real one, something like the journey of Nimander and the Tiste Andii in "Toll the Hounds". I don't think that general audience will enjoy this part so much, because it is full of philosophy (a brutal one, though). This again changes toward end, when we will finally learn more about Cleric. Also, as in TJE, it will provide us with one really spectacular and epic ending.

And the third one is description of events in the Kellhus' Empire, now abandoned by him and ruled by Esmenet. This part contains most of events happening in this book and has the most POVs: Esmenet, Kelmomas, The White-Luck Warrior, and few new ones. Again, this part reminded me much about later Dune books.

We don't learn much about the setting in this book; except at the ending when we learn more about dragons, and vie them, about Inchoroi. It is curious how a lot of names sound like Tolkien's from "Lord of the Rings". And considering the underground travel in TJE, it feels almost like homage to it; even thought, one written in much grittier and brutal tone. The writing sometimes gets tough to read through, in Erikson-like way. Oh, there is very good and succinct reminder of events from previous books at the beginning.

Even though "The White-Luck Warrior" is not as exciting and novel book as "The Judging Eye", it is a necessary part of trilogy, with some interesting stuff going at the end, and generally good. And it prepares a good way for "The Unholy Consult", a book I expect to be spectacular.

Also, I am very interested what will happen in the next and final trilogy? Another 20-year jump? Does this not bode well for the Great Ordeal?

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