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Beautifully written, but you have to study the history for this 3rd one
on February 16, 2007
The first two books in this series (The Darkness That Comes Before and The Warrior Propeht) really set the bar high: the were beautifully written, featured several complex characters and an excellent major plot with several sub plot lines. They were a little complicated in the "world" created by the books, but not deterringly so.
This one, though just as beautifully written, was a struggle to get through. Not nearly as good as the first two, and, because of the fast ending, seems like it was written under a severe deadline.
The plot obviously continues from the second book (and, people with poor memories like me will appreciate the 20+ page "what has come before" summary at the beginning of the book) where Kellhus the Dunyain has assumed control of the Holy War through logic and manipulation. Achamian is helping him, but struggling with that path, in no small part because Kellhus has taken Achamian's wife as his own (when Achamian was feared dead). Cnaiur believes himself mad or possesed or both, and follows his own path to redemption. All head for Shimeh, the Holy City now held by heathens, where Kellhus has been "summoned" to see and sent to assasinate his father.
The characters again are beautifully wrought and described, especially Achamian, Esmet and Cnaiur.
Three major complaints. Bakker asks his readers not only to enter his world, but to study it. The PB version has 100 pages of Glossary out of a 500 page book, and in some of the passages, it feels like you've got to read them all to understand what is happening. Very confusing at times.
Second, the end flys by. A lot of action and things tied up in a very short period of time.
Third, it's not an obvious end. There are many questions left unanswered, obviously a fourth book or a new series coming next.
I will continue reading Mr. Bakker's works, because he tackles a lot, presents a new version of fantasy writing different than most, and I learn a lot from his style of writing. But he set the bar high with the first two novels, and this one, while still good, is not at their level.