Published by Overlook Press on September 2nd 2008
Genres: Fiction, Science Fiction, General, Fantasy
Format: Trade Paperback
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The second book in the Prince of Nothing Trilogy
The first battle against the heathen has been won, but while the Great Names plot and squabble over the spoils, Kellhus patiently extends his influence, drawing more followers to his banner. The sorcerer Achamian and his lover, Esmenet, submit entirely, only to have their faith tested in unimaginable ways. The warrior Cnaiur falls ever deeper into madness. The skin-spies of the Consult watch with growing trepidation. And as the vast host of the Holy War endures its sternest test in the searing wastes of the desert, a name - a title - begins to be whispered amongst the faithful. But who is the Warrior-Prophet: a dangerous heretic, who turns brother against brother? Or the only man who can avert the Second Apocalypse? The Holy War stands on a knife edge. If all is not to be lost the great powers will have to choose between their most desperate desires and their most ingrained prejudice. Between hatred and hope. Between the Warrior-Prophet and the end of the world...
So, yeah, more good stuff. Really, I should just leave it at that since I lack the vocabulary to truly express how soul absorbing I find Mr. Bakker’s writing. I have a spot bookmarked close to the beginning of “The Warrior Prophet” where Akka, whom I think of as the main protagonist, struggles out of his pitiful tent after another sleepless night that leaves him so hopeless of mind and trembling of body he feels as if – “… he stood upon the very lip of the world, that if it tipped by the slightest measure, he would be cast into an endless black.” This sort of descriptive quality leaves me feeling wholly inadequate and unworthy of leaving a review.
Still, here I am, stumbling my way through as best I can.
In short, the story isn’t overly complicated. It’s a fantasy telling of a crusade, a retaking of the holy land by one group of religious fanatics from another. Like the crusades from our world, great tragedy follows in its footsteps. Men are able to rationalize the most awful of crimes when they feel entitled by their belief system. If you’re looking for a clear cut good guys vs. bad guys story, this isn’t it. The loss of life from battle, disease, terrain and just plain stupidity is daunting and very believable.
Yet within the tapestry of this enormous war, there are individuals who shape or are shaped by the events they endure. Within the center of all that occurs is Akka (Drusas Achamian), a man both humble and almost godlike in power. He is torn by what he desires, what he feels is right, and what is his duty. He relives the past every night and dreads what the future holds. He questions everything he does and suffers terribly knowing he could be dooming the world if he makes a single error. It’s a wonder he hangs on to his sanity at all.
Those around him, Esme his love, Kellhus a prophet, Zin his closest living friend, and endless others swirl around him tugging at him in various ways as he attempts to see what lays ahead. Does he give up his duty and position to take Esme as his wife? Does he tell his order about Kellhus or withhold what he knows because he thinks the monk/prophet is integral to the world’s survival? How far can he push the Great Names spouting what he knows to be truth yet they see as blasphemy? The story is simple, yes, but the toll on human emotion is not.
Like the previous volume, this is no light read. Those picking it up are making a commitment of six hundred densely packed pages (trade size). The reward is a look into a beautifully rendered world, and a lesson in how to write beautiful prose. A love of logic and philosophy, while not a requirement, would most likely add to the reader’s enjoyment. And don’t expect happy endings. The tragedies contained within the pages of this book vary on scale but spare no one.