Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Two Short Reviews: Bakker, Kristian (by Liviu Suciu)

Since I am trying to showcase as many 2011 interesting books of various kinds as I can, but the number of full reviews I can do is limited and is becoming even smaller due to various reasons, it is inevitable that some books won't receive as complete coverage as I wish. I keep the continually updated post with 2011 books read HERE. Here I will talk about two books I would have usually reviewed in full, but since I cannot do it, I will just summarize my thoughts.

First, one the highly awaited novels of the year: The White Luck Warrior by Scott Bakker. I greatly enjoyed the original Prince of Nothing trilogy though I was less enthusiastic about The Judging Eye (FBC Rv) which at the time I thought it was too prologue-like. Now after reading The White Luck Warrior, I realize that my discontent had to do with where the author took the series more than anything else.

The White Luck Warrior (D, series drop) was the first truly disappointing major expected release of 2011 for me. Most of it I would say it's probably me moving on beyond the kind of book this represents but I found it dull, boring and pretentiously empty. All the talk about kings, faith, all the philosophizing for which Scott Bakker is renowned just made me yawn and I couldn't give a fig for any of the characters of the book, except for Kelhus of course. If the No God would come and sweep them into history more the better.

A series drop and I kind of regret it given how much I enjoyed the first trilogy at least at the time, but overall books about ancient evil awakened and the mobilizing of huge armies to combat it, all done in an earnest, "oh, I am taking this really seriously" manner seems to have become another sub-genre I will give a pass from now o
n. I'd rather have some subtlety, some irony, some understanding of the human nature, than what the author offered here and the only thread that was palatable for me in The Judging Eye - with Mimara and Achamanian - became here another "fight and philosophize fest" that I could not wait to be over even at my fast reading rate.

The only redeeming moments were the ones with Kelhus who as usual was pure awesomeness since he is the only "alive" character of the new series, but few pages here and there cannot compensate for the drudgery of the rest.

Odin's Wolves (A/A+) by Giles Kristian is the third and temporarily last - hopefully since I want more for sure - tale of the Viking adventurers under Jarl Sigurd and Raven his protegee seemingly marked by Odin.

The promise of Raven: Blood Eye and Raven: Sons of Thunder is fully realized here with a rip-roaring tale of adventure, intrigue and even occasional heartbreak, that starts on the coasts of France, passes through Moorish Spain, the Mediterranean and ends as expected in Constantinople where the throne is fiercely contested by ambitious nobles and generals, while Sigurd and his fellowship may just be the ones to decide who wears the purple...

Since Odin's Wolves picks up where Sons of Thunder ends, the increasingly diverse band of Sigurd and Raven having just lost their treasure to save their lives, needs another goal and the Jarl sure provides it. On the way they have the usual adventures, great duels, cunning tricks, great banter and blood curling happenings, while the book keeps the "no putting down" breakneck pace of the first two volumes. The ending has a special quality to it because it provides enough closure to be satisfied with the trilogy as a whole, but leaves open the future of our heroes for more adventures to come. Bring them on!

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