Reviews of Warrior-Prophet, the (2005)
Review by clong (2006-03-04)
This is an ambitious book, one that is at times riveting and yet at other times frustrating. It has a dark tone, gritty and frequently ugly.
Bakker has a dazzling inventiveness that reminds me of one of my favorite authors, Steven Erikson. The world building is impressive; Bakker seems to be pulling location after location, character after character, culture after of culture, political faction after political faction, out of a hat, and yet each feels interesting, unique, and apt. And Bakker describes these people, places and things in concise (despite this book's heft) and very effective descriptive language. The battle scenes have a wonderful immediacy, bringing to mind a ride on an emotional roller coaster of terror, exhaustion, confusion, and elation in turns.
The male lead characters, Kellhus, Achamian, and Cnaiur are intriguing and complex. They each have a bit of the tragic Greek hero in them. Kellhus is again a very ambitious character, one who becomes less sympathetic as the book progresses (indeed at times he almost becomes a bit of a caricature). And yet I found myself confident that he still has a chance for redemption. Bakker also does a nice job of building a large cast of colorful characters within the conflicting factions of the Holy War.
The female characters are less convincing. Serwe gets less focus here than she did in the first book, and when she does appear she seems to be little more than a symbol of woman as sexual object and/or dupe of man. Esmi also gets less screen time in this book. I found her character the least compelling of the main POVs in the first book, and if anything I found Esmi's actions to be less and less convincing as this book went along, leaving me with little empathy her as it ends.
My biggest frustration with the book has to do with military strategy and tactics. Victory seems to be determined purely by where the author wants the plot to go. These are contests of will as opposed to contests of training, intelligence, leadership, logistics, communications, reconnaissance, etc. Generals seem to forget that they (or the other side) have sorcerers available much of the time, until itís time for the battle scene to conclude cataclysmically. It made absolutely no sense strategically for the Fanim to fight the turning battle of part 2 of the book in the location and manner that they did. And Kellhusí role in this same battle felt like something out of a comic book.
Still, this is an intriguing book. Iíll definitely be moving on to book 3.