1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars
Beware: "Nothing" here!, April 18 2012
I am a seriously avid and persistent reader. I thoroughly dislike cliche fantasy novels, and have been enjoying the fresh breeze that authors like GRR Martin, Scott Lynch, Joe Abercrombie, and Steven Erickson have been bringing into this genre. So when I was struggling to survive until the next installments of Lynch's GBs and Martin's SoIF, I came across this book. The reviews seemed to suggest this was deep in philosophy and rich with language. I love philosophy and I enjoy rich texts, so i picked it up. about 130 pages in and I felt like a deflated balloon. the word "disappointment" doesn't do this book justice.
The first reading (yep, i gave this book a second chance) was exhaustive not because of the rich text, but because I could not convince myself to flip the page. I knew there'd be just more of the same: nothing. i guess that explains the title of the trilogy: the prince of nothing...because this is the book that leaves you feeling nothing. Nothing for the plot, the characters, the story, the world. ah! how I suffered. Still I pushed it aside and gave it a second chance 2 months later.
You know that phrase "most things are better the second time around!"? well, that doesn't apply here.
Here are a list of the problems with this book:
- the narration is very detached. Even 1000s of years ago, when people told stories around the fire at night, they knew to engage their audience. well, clearly our engagement is not sought after by Bakker. he just goes on and on and we are left to interest ourselves by clinging on to some non-existing thread of amusement in the storyline. Furthermore, sometimes I couldn't even begin to visualize the scene because Bakker hadn't provided enough info. It was like the scene was evolving in some kind of chaulk sketch instead of a painted canvas.
- there is no catharsis. the pessimism and misery just piles on.
- theres no humour!!!!Bakker has obviously overlooked this critical element. Martin managed to pull humour out of his darkest, most disgusting characters. Even Abercrombie, with that horrifically pessimistic storyline in his First Law trilogy, managed to incorporate humour into his story. This element makes characters all the more human and multidimensional because in order to have a sense of humour one must have emotions and must feel. but Bakker's characters are sorely lacking this and his storyline is too serious and thereby, self-destructive.
- as a continuation of the previous point, whereas other successful authors have shown at least some of their characters to be like spice palettes of personality, Bakker's characters are very much one dimensional and bland. Therefore, they are unrelatable, and not quite human. They could easily be machines. in fact, this storyline would work better if Bakker just told us they were machines, because then we would have some justification for this clear absence of personality and complexity.
- ah...where is the philosophy in this book?
- why are the handful of female characters in this book all prostitutes? Some reviewers have related this to the author's perception of women, but I think its more telling of his weakness in writing women. He clearly has difficulty developing female characters that do not display utterly whorish personalities. i.e. he cannot untangle the complexity of a woman's mind without resorting to her sexuality. this is very bad for a writer!
- much - too much- is openly borrowed from the real world. Now, Martin did the same thing with the War of the Roses, but he made the story his own to the extent that I was not reminded of the basis of the story as I was reading. With Bakker though, I was reminded of it at every other syllable!
- rich text? perhaps, but I prefer to describe the richness of this book with a cake metaphor. Triple chocolate cake is delicious and rich, but if you put a layer of melted extra sweet white chocolate over a slice of this cake, it'll be too rich to eat and you might have cardiovascular problems before you finish eating it; there is a point when rich becomes poor, and in the realm of fantasy, this book is that point.
I would not recommend this book to anyone. it is highly overrated. Expect to stumble all the way to the end... if you get there.