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The Prince of Nothing #3

The Thousandfold Thought

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All opposition to the man once derided as the Prince of Nothing has vanished or been vanquished. Their leaders slain, the heathen Fanim have fled in disarray. One final march will bring the Holy War to the fabled city of Shimeh. But so very much has changed. Anasurimbor Kellhus, the Warrior-Prophet, now leads the Men of the Tusk. The cuckolded sorcerer Achamian serves as his tutor, betraying his school to keep safe the man he believes can prevent the Second Apocalypse. The Scylvendi barbarian, Cnaiur, succumbs finally to madness. The Consult, sensing the endgame of millennia of planning, work frantically to prepare for the coming of the No-God. The final reckoning is at hand. Faceless assassins will strike in the dead of night. Kings and Emperors will fall. The sorcerous Schools will be unleashed. And Anasurimbor Kellhus will at last confront his father and the dread revelation of the Thousandfold Thought.

629 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 20, 2006

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About the author

R. Scott Bakker

38 books1,862 followers
Richard Scott Bakker, who writes as R. Scott Bakker and as Scott Bakker, is a novelist whose work is dominated by a large series informally known as the The Second Apocalypse which Bakker began developing whilst as college in the 1980s.

The series was originally planned to be a trilogy, with the first two books entitled The Prince of Nothing and The Aspect-Emperor. However, when Bakker began writing the series in the early 2000s, he found it necessary to split each of the three novels into its own sub-series to incorporate all of the characters, themes and ideas he wished to explore. Bakker originally conceived of seven books: a trilogy and two duologies. This later shifted to two trilogies, with the acknowledgement that the third series may yet also expand to a trilogy.

The Prince of Nothing trilogy was published between 2003 and 2006. It depicts the story of the Holy War launched by the Inrithi kingdoms against the heathen Fanim of the south to recover the holy city of Shimeh for the faithful. During the war, a man named Ansurimbor Kellhus emerges from obscurity to become an exceptionally powerful and influential figure, and it is discovered that the Consult, an alliance of forces united in their worship of the legendary No-God, a nihilistic force of destruction, are manipulating events to pave the way for the No-God's return to the mortal world.

The sequel series, The Aspect-Emperor trilogy, picks up the story twenty years later with Kellhus leading the Inrithi kingdoms in directly seeking out and confronting the Consult. The first novel in this new series is due for publication in 2009.

Whilst working on the Prince of Nothing series, Bakker was given a challenge by his wife to write a thriller. To answer this, he produced a science fiction thriller based around a serial killer who can control and influence the human mind. This book, Neuropath, was eventually published in 2008. Inspired, he wrote a second thriller titled The Disciple of the Dog in 2009.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 414 reviews
Profile Image for Khalid Abdul-Mumin.
172 reviews73 followers
November 3, 2022
Read: 4th of August, 2022

1st edit:
A stunning conclusion to an epic journey.

The prose is magically poetic, relevant and descriptive, the characters realistically painted and the world-building is phantasmagoric!

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Gavin.
861 reviews392 followers
July 31, 2018
This was a good finale to the Prince of Nothing series. I definitely consider this to be one of the best dark fantasy series I've read over the years. Bakker's fantasy world has plenty of depth and his story is engaging and full of twists and turns. It also helps that is is packed with memorable characters and that Bakker has an engaging writing style!

This final book focused on the conclusion of the Holy War story arc as well as Kellhus's confrontation with his father. Outside of that there was plenty of other stuff going on to hold ones attention as the various factions kept up their plotting and intrigue while the Consult continued to make their own presence known to the wider world.

The story was good. There was plenty of action and intrigue and also a decent amount of interesting social commentary inserted into the story in a way that did not overwhelm it.

Kellhus's and his Dûnyain Logos philosophy have always been the most interesting bits of the story for me. It is a little nihilistic but I do love its acknowledgement of cultural indoctrination in particular.

Not that Prince of Nothing is a series without any flaws. It is a super dark world with very interesting, but quite evil, characters and some fairly dark content so if you are in the mood for a light read this is not the series to go with! That said, I never felt like this series go too bleak in tone and that is due to the way Bakker succeeded in mitigating the horror and darker moments of the story. It helped that he never sold any of the characters to the reader as people they should like or be rooting for and that his somewhat detached narration style kept things bearable.

The biggest flaws of this series for me was the misogyny that was ingrained in every level of the story and the overuse of certain tropes. Bakker claims the misogyny was a deliberate ploy on his part but I've got my doubts. If it was deliberate he was being way to subtle as this guy missed his point! I can see the cultural misogyny present in the worldbuilding as deliberate but I'm less inclined to give him a pass of the stuff we see in the story set up and in places where it has no reason to exist culturally. This series, and this book in particular, has always overdone the madness trope. Half the characters are insane! I've no problem with any of the characters story arcs individually but when you add them all together it makes the trope feel overused and comes off as a bit lazy.

Not that any of the flaws were things that overly damaged my enjoyment of this series. It was fantastic in a number of ways and very engaging from start to finish. I just feel like with a few tweaks this series could have joined my all time favourites list!

All in all I felt like this was a good conclusion to a memorable series. It wrapped out a number of ongoing story arcs but left plenty of openings to keep me interested in reading the sequel series.

Rating: 4.5 stars. I'll round down to 4 stars on my official GR's rating just to chop one star off a book in this series as a result of its few annoying flaws:) Though it is a bit harsh.

Audio Note: David DeVries did an excellent job with the audio. It is a pity he was not retained for the sequel series!
Profile Image for Terry .
394 reviews2,145 followers
March 29, 2012
This review applies to all three volumes of Bakker's 'The Prince of Nothing' series. First off, let me say that I'm really impressed with what Bakker achieved here. I'm reminded of something Guy Kay said when asked why he wrote The Fionavar Tapestry about wanting to prove that there was still life in the old tropes of high fantasy, as designed by Tolkien, and that new things could be done with them as opposed to mere slavish imitation. I think Bakker succeeded admirably in this (whereas Guy Kay's actual creation of something really new, in Fionavar at least, is debatable).

From the explanation of the Elves' immortality, as well as a really interesting extrapolation of what that would mean for a contigent being, to the depiction of evil so utterly repulsive and frightening that it makes Melkor and Sauron look like Sunday school teachers this series really played with the traditional high fantasy motifs in ways I found very intriguing. Add to that a magic system based on principles from the epistomology of different schools of philosophy and a cast of characters whose flaws make them almost painfully real to the reader and you'd expect to get a smash hit on your hands. Except that doesn't really seem to have happened and I think I know why.

In a nutshell the books, and the world they present, are just so unambiguosuly dark that I think few readers have the stomach to follow Bakker where he wants to lead them. The most redeeming character of the series, the downtrodden wizard Drusus Achamian, is ultimately a loser who seems only to be a relative good-guy in that he's too feckless to be effectively out for himself. Anasûrimbor Kellhus, the character who would be the titular hero of the series as written by anyone else, is more akin to a natural force than a man and the utter vacuity of his moral centre is so frightening that it makes him both more and less human than any other character of the novel. Cnaiür urs Skiötha, another incredibly well-drawn and fascinating character, is also so driven by his broken nature that while what he is capable of is impressive, it certainly isn't anything the reader is likely to relate to. Bakker obviously has a point to make in his story about human nature, and even the nature of reality, but it certainly isn't a point that is likely to sit well with too many readers unless they like their world view leavened with a heaping portion of nihilism. One begins to wonder, as we learn more about this world and the sleeping great evil that is apparently looming on the horizon, why anyone would bother trying to save such an utterly flawed universe anyway. Despite all of this, though, the world as Bakker paints it is an incredibly vivid and interesting one. The hints of 'what has gone before' that are dropped in the story give real texture to this place and the mysteries still left unanswered are as tantalising as those for which we do receive some explanation. It is really fascinating to see how someone using similar tropes and building blocks to Tolkien could have built something so completely different, and yet still so compelling.

The story itself follows the rise of a great crusade between warring nations against the backdrop of the rise to power of an ancient force of evil which most of the world does not even believe in anymore. Behind and within this backdrop are woven the tales of the three main characters (Achaimian, Kellhus, and Cnaiur) as they each pursue their own goals and are inextricably led to one another. The climax of the series could be considered something of an anti-climax, for while each of the characters has, in some sense, found what they were seeking and begun upon a new path, the much larger movements of the story (both the crusade and the rise of sleeping evil) are left in media res for another series to pick up on. Bakker has now released two books in this continuation of the larger story, but many readers may find it frustrating that so much of what could be considered the overarching plot of the novels is left completely hanging by the end of volume three.

Overall I was torn by this series. One the one hand I think Bakker did a commendable job in building a world that did truly new things with the high fantasy genre and I was always fascinated by each new mystery he revealed; on the other hand I ended up feeling like I needed a shower after reading these books. The evil in it is presented so convincingly, and the very nature of the world he created is so bleak, that I just don't relish the thought of visiting the place again. Add to that the fact that the term "sympathetic character" doesn't seem to be in Bakker's vocabulary and you are left with a series that is definitely tailored to the tastes of the minority...but then again, maybe that's a good thing.
Profile Image for Mark.
989 reviews63 followers
June 5, 2013
From the very first book, I suspected that I would reach a point where I could no longer stand the parts that I don't like about Bakker's writing style. I was surprised that I made it through two books, actually, with the second book being excellent in spite of its raging Kellhus-ness.

I plugged away at this third book over several weeks and I still only made it halfway through. I have abandoned the pursuit. I cannot take it any more. I cannot stand the pretentious philosophical stuff that permeates every time Kellhus is on the screen. This book constitutes literary masturbation to such a strong extent that I feel dirty reading it. My Nook may never be clean again, and neither will I, for having touched it while reading this.

There are characters where you read about them and you aren't supposed to like them. Take a Joffrey Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire, an obviously loathsome individual from pretty much his first appearance. The reader is not ever invited to be sympathetic to Joffrey, but is also never barraged with paragraph after paragraph, every time Joffrey appears, about his perfection, his ultimate intellect, his flawless schemes and strategies, the way he manipulates and takes over other men, whatever. It was unpleasant to read the words on the page every time Kellhus was on the screen, or every time Kellhus was being talked about, and especially every time that the narration was from the thoughts of Kellhus himself.

For some time during this book, I found myself rooting for the Fanim, rooting for Conphas, rooting for the Consult, just anything to take Kellhus down even a tiny peg. I would prefer the Second Apocalypse to destroy this fictional world than ever read another word about Kellhus again.

I may not be a skin-spy, but I herald a different apocalypse for them. I have closed the book and will never open it again. They are all dead to me.
Profile Image for Mike.
481 reviews375 followers
September 7, 2021
August 2021 update: Sometimes you just need to re-read an old favorite. Glad I did, it has been a while since I last dipped my toe into this series and I will likely finish all of them by the end of the year. The below review still holds up.

Observational aside: I will rarely reread books. Once I finish a book it is usually off to the next one, with few exceptions. In this case the sixth book in the series, The Great Ordeal, is coming out soon, a book I have waited nearly five years for, and I wanted to give myself a refresher on the entire series before it was released. I don't recall the first time I read "The Prince of Nothing" trilogy but Goodreads assures me it was before I joined this website. Since then I have read literally hundreds of books and grown as a reader thanks to those books as well as thinking through those books when I write reviews. Over that time my sensibilities and critical eye has changed as well (I'd like to think for the better) so it was a rather enlightening exercise this return to a time in my reading life from before Goodreads (BGR?). With that rambling out of the way on to the review.

The Darkness That Comes Before review
The Warrior Prophet review

Now I could write about the fascinating happenings of this book, how characters developed, how the world was broadened a bit more, how the climax both brought great closure and opened up exciting new possibilities for the next trilogy. I could write about how this book was the culmination of many well laid plans of the first two books and paid off quite well. I could say how much I enjoyed rereading this book and what new insights it offered. But...

I'm not.

Don't get me wrong, this book is all those things and well deserving of the five stars I gave it. It is just that I would prefer to use this space to ramble about a much more profound theme of the series. That theme is control and choice.

When I first read this book in the BGR years of my life I approached it as just another fantasy book, albeit one with some interesting insights into the human condition and innovative takes on characters. But after many, many more book readings and hours logged writing reviews my perspective was a bit different this time, a bit more critical and a bit more discerning. What I found upon this reread was, yes, a smashingly good and original fantasy series, but also a subtle theme exploring the nature of control and choice. Specifically the control of moral agents by other sentient moral agents (there's that philosophy pseudo-minor I picked up kicking in again) and the presence or absence of choice. Once I noticed this it seemed to permeate the story at multiple levels.

Esmenet: One of my issues with the series upon the reread was how little agency the female characters had, Esmenet especially. She is a prostitute in a culture that both condemns them and uses them, maintaining a double standard where the female body is condemned when exercising its sexuality but also exploited as an object by that same culture. She has little control over her life both because of her sex and her profession.

On a very apparent level she is controlled by the men around her and her culture. She is little more than property that can be bought and done with as they see fit; deviating from her niche within the culture can get her injured or even stoned to death. Even when she is among friends she is only safe because they are men that can provide cover for her from others. While not as overt of a control (nor would they consider it control), she very much has to stay within their orbit for her own protection.

I believe one of the reasons Bakker put Esmenet in such a situation was to cultivate within the reader empathy for Esmenet, to show how crappy it was to be within the power of others with little to no recourse. He wanted to show readers that such a system is fundamentally unjust and perhaps lay the ground work for the other types of control present in the book.

Cnaiür urs Skiötha and Drusas Achamian: Where Esmenet was controlled by an immediate, external agency Cnaiür and Achamain (Aka) are controlled by their own internal beliefs. You may not necessarily think of this as control but a frequently recurring occurrence in this series is Cnaiür attempting to most traditional Scylvendi he could be (Scylvendi being the culture he is from, a proud and traditional steppe warrior society). But as much as he tries he is unable to constrain his thoughts to that of a traditional Scylvendi, always having his desire for revenge and the things he must do to achieve this conflict with what he thinks a proper Scylendi ought to do. Of course it doesn't help he was ostracized from his tribe for behaving in an un-Scylendi manner. This conflict drives and controls how he behaves and acts, a invisible chain that constrains what he can and cannot do. It eventually drives him mad and to self-destructive ends.

For Aka, he is forever linked to the memories of a long dead sorcerer and founder of his School. Every night he relives truly terrifying memories of the First Apocalypse, an ancient genocidal conflict that nearly saw all indigenous life on the planet wiped out. It is these memories that drive his fellow Mandate Schoolmen to oppose the forces of the Consult, the ancient evil that came so near to victory once. He pursues his mission at the expense of his love for Esmenet and the love he has for his former students. It is a lodestone he willingly lays about his own neck that keeps him from happiness and fulfillment and is renewed after every night living the horrors of ages past.

Both Aka and Cnaiür bind themselves to the control of otherwise impotent forces: culture and duty. While not as obvious as the control men and society place upon Esmenet, they are also destructive to the health and well being of the characters, levers that move their souls.

Anasûrimbor Kellhus: Which brings us to the lever mover himself Kellhus. Kellhus has many qualities that much suggest he is a Marty Stu: he is attractive, absurdly physically fit, capable of understanding the thoughts of feelings of people by the muscles of their face and tone of voice, nearly unbeatable in a fight, and absurdly intelligent, capable of learning new languages in mere days and easily learning sorcery. But for all his physical and intellectual prowess he is probably the farthest thing from a Marty Stu for he is complete devoid of emotions.

Let me back up for a second. Kellhus was, for all intents and purposes, raised in a cult, albeit a very, very, VERY successful one. The Dûnyain have existed since the First Apocalypse, more than two thousand years.
The Dûnyain have surrendered themselves to the logos, to what you would call reason and intellect. We seek absolute awareness, the self moving thought. The thoughts of all men arise from the darkness. If you are the movement of your soul, and the cause of that movement precedes you, then how could you ever call your thoughts your own?"
Of course the way they achieve that is truly terrifying. First off they selectively breed within themselves for certain attributes and train the children pretty much from birth. And that training does involve a giant hall of lobotomized people with flayed faces to better allow the children to understand how thoughts ("movements of the soul") correspond with expressions (to mention just one). It is creepy as fuck and as an adult Kellhus is pretty much a super rational vulcan with the capacity perfectly fake emotions and the ability to read people's faces as though he were reading their mind. Couple that with an amazingly sharp intellect and you can see how he is able to manipulate the entire Holy War to serve his own purpose.
"What comes before determines what comes after. For Dûnyain, there's no higher principle."
"And what comes before?"
"For men? History. Language. Passion. Custom. All these things determine what men say, think, do. These are the hidden puppet-strings from which all men hang."
Now while all this may have the makings of a super villain, you have to remember Kellhus isn't evil. He isn't good either, he is merely the ultimate pragmatist, using what tools (people) are available to him to achieve his ends. Just as children are told convenient stories and lies to make them behave in a certain way Kellhus can exert the same sort of control over grown men and women.

But just what is this control? Unlike the control over Esmenet it is not backed by force. Unlike the control over Aka and Cnaiür this control is external, sort of. What Kellhus does it manipulate the passions, history, and beliefs of the people of the Three Seas and fits himself into their sense of the world. He makes them BELIEVE in him as a religious prophet by understanding and manipulating them. They all believe they came to believe in him by their own free will but he is very much adjusting and tweaking their emotions (using his Dûnyain training) to become useful tools to him. It is a control that is both subtle and profound, playing upon the most basic impulses of mankind, the need to believe. Personally I find this sort of control and manipulation just as unjust and terrible as the control exerted upon Esmenet, even if it is infinitely more subtle and less coercive.

But if anything Kellhus's control raises an even larger question: do we have free will? Because all the things Kelhuss uses to control men are not created by him, but merely used by him. He utilizes the pre-existing beliefs and cultural patterns to influence people. Without him present people are still influenced and equally controlled by their circumstance. To use the series's phraseology: they are not self moving souls, they are influenced by the darkness that comes before.
If we're nothing more than our thoughts and passions, and if our thoughts and passions are nothing more than movements of our souls, then we are nothing more than those who move us.
Kelhuss or no Kelhuss the people of these books are the product of their environment. It controls how they perceive the world, what they consider sacred or profane, what they ought to aspire to and the like, just like real humans. If the characters in the books can be moved by the manipulation of these core beliefs can we say that people in the real world would not be as easily manipulated? Are we, like the characters in the book, forever defined by what comes before, unable to step outside the cycle of causality and become self moving souls? It isn't surprising the author of this series nearly finished a PhD in philosophy as some of its most fundamental questions are explored in the series.

The Outside: What, did you think Kellhuss was the last link in the chain of control? Nope, there is also the metaphysical space known as The Outside. Think of it as the realm of Gods, Demons, and the Afterlife. Very little is actually known about. Many human religions make claims about it but for the most part it is speculative. Sorcerers are considered damned because of the hideous mark they bear and can see in other sorcerers. They have lost their soul but gained the world.

While this may also seem speculative (afterall, maybe the mark of the sorcerers means something completely different) there is the matter of the Inchoroi, the space aliens that crashed on the planet these books take place on and waged a millennial war with the Nonmen. They believe they are damned not due to sorcery, but due to their proclivity towards... let's say carnal behavior (to put it VERY, VERY lightly). They believe if they can reduce the amount of souls on a planet to 144,000 they can sever the link between the world and the Outside, thereby saving themselves. Considering they have apparently traveled to other worlds to try and achieve this I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt they may be on to something.

If we grant that they are right, that there is an Outside that will damn some souls to an eternity of torment (oddly there is very little discussion about a heaven analogue) then there is another layer of control that falls upon all souls. This looming threat of damnation affects how a person behaves and what they do. However, because the terms of the Outside are so vague and unsubstantiated, there is really no way to know just what this all powerful moral judge uses as a basis for its judgement.

Clearly the Inchoroi have some idea that their perversities give them a first class ticket to damnation, but other moral prescriptions are very much lacking. Yet by trespassing against these unspecified rules a soul could find an eternity of torment waiting for them. This uncheckable power (unless the Inchoroi plan works) very much controls people, dictating what is and isn't permitted with no recourse or avenue of appeal. It doesn't help that the rules aren't even laid out anywhere since various religions claims different revelations regarding the Outside. What people are left with is an absolute tyrant that is concealed in its moral scales and will only reveal its will after a soul has shuffled off its mortal coil. The Outside controls through its very ambiguity causing people to act contrary to their own souls to conform to an externally applied standard. Religious extremism is very prevalent throughout this series (as to be expected since it was based on the First Crusade) and that is partially driven by the very real existence of The Outside.

So where does all this leave us?

I think with a multifaceted examination of control and choice:
-Esmenet was constrained by externally applied and enforced social and cultural chains
-Cnaiür urs Skiötha and Drusas Achamian were constrained by internally applied chains of what it meant be the role that had placed upon themselves
-Khelhus used the pre-existing externally produced but internally applied chains of culture and history to manipulate men and women of all walks of life while he himself was free of such shackles and could stand outside the flow of history and culture
-The Outside serves as the ultimate stick, threatening eternal damnation to those who stray morally from its unrevealed moral code

All these forces come together to drive the passions and ambitions of men and women in the books. They are also a mirror held up to our own world. We are certainly no more free of the chains that bind the characters than they are. Societies will enforce moral codes and behaviors on its members with violence (see for example honor killings). People will try to live up some image of themselves or their culture in spite of who they really are. And religion has been used for countless millennia to justify and encourage some truly horrible atrocities. Just because we are the reader of this story doesn't make us any more free than the characters on the page. This series holds a mirror up to illuminate the chains of control we face on a day to day basis, chains we may not even be aware exist. We are like the characters, but we have the ability to break these chains to become self-moving souls in our own right.


Or maybe I am completely wrong and Bakker just wanted to tell a neat story about crusades and ancient races and magic and genocidal alien invaders and a sociopathic protagonist and giant set piece battle scenes. We may never know.

So yeah, this was a really great series and if you like the dark fantasy genre you should jump on board the Prince of Nothing train.
Profile Image for Doug.
84 reviews56 followers
January 25, 2022
When Tolkien wrote his once-a-generation smash hit trilogy, a great part of his success can naturally be attributed to the man’s sheer creative willpower in spending nearly an entire lifetime creating a world with languages, traditions, and histories spanning as long (or longer) than our own world.

But Tolkien’s success was also due to his harnessing of millennia-Old myths that have prevailed even in the advent of the scientific and industrial revolutions. One thing that many fail to realize - and this isn’t to discredit anything that Tolkien accomplished - is that while Tolkien is certainly the father of modern fantasy and has enabled hundreds of writers who perhaps never would have been published to have a voice, he isn’t the father of fantasy itself.

For fantasy and myth is as old as humanity. Just look at cave art from the Neolithic age.

Why are we still drawn to fantasy?

Is it to escape? Is it to experience life in an alternate world, where fairies and elves roam free?

It’s more than that. If fantasy was just pure imaginative escape, then there’s nothing to differentiate it from any other form of fiction.

Fantasy is an inherent reaction to the death of meaning in our scientific and Industrial Age.

R. Scott Bakker, The author of the work that I am writing this meandering review for, has said this himself before.

Fantasy almost always had some kind of magical element precisely because while if anyone in real life now says they believe in Magic they would be labeled a nut, we aren’t too far removed from an age when magic and a belief in the supernatural permeated nearly everything. And we still haven’t reconciled that fact in our collective consciousness.

Every single culture in the entire world has had creation myths to explain their origins, and a couple centuries of rapid scientific growth hasn’t eliminated that yearning from our minds.

Science, in its explanation of the origins of everything from rocks to thunderstorms to comets, has told us that we live in a far more cold and impersonal world than we once believed in.

5,000 years ago a comet or shooting star was interpreted as an omen from the gods. Now, there is an empirical, proven explanation.

But in that explanation, we are left with a startling fact - our own attempts at meaning, our own truths, our own religions, feel small and inconsequential, and we fear our own tiny place in the cosmos, though most of us rarely verbalize this fear.

This is Bakker’s essential premise in his Prince of Nothing trilogy.

His Kellhus character is less of an anti-Christ but more of a non-Christ. Kellhus is above men and laughs inwardly at their childishness. He is from a sect that has spent millennia perfecting logic and reasoning and dismissing emotion.

Kellhus enters Bakker’s world - a more brutal and grimdark version of middle earth - after complete seclusion, and he sees that men are but children in the grand scheme of things.

To illustrate Bakker’s point, Kellhus, were he to enter our world, would see that a human born in India would see themselves as Indian and have at least some of the collective cultural and spiritual beliefs shared by Indians, while someone born in say, Japan, would have at least some of the cultural and spiritual beliefs shared by Japanese. Same with any country, really. Russia, Germany, the UK, Morocco, etc.

See, Bakker is saying with his Kellhus character that we (humans) believe that WE are right and our cultural and spiritual experience is the right one.

We say things like “those people? They’re so backwards! Their beliefs are false! They don’t know the truth!”

While the people we say this about on the other side of the metaphorical (or real) oceans that divide us, say the same about us.

But who is right, in the end?

We all believe that we are the right ones. That our experience is the best one.

Kellhus sees that fact in the world he enters and coldly manipulates it, harnessing an entire holy crusade to his own ends.

Bakker’s work isn’t only nihilistic, as that would probably come across as cheap, it’s just one of the few fantasies that actually attempts to analyze the post-truth world we live in.

The battle scenes, while not usually falling at key plot points (which I actually appreciate), are incredible. The only work whose battle scenes rival Bakker’s I can personally think of are those in Pressfield’s Gates of Fire.

No one has ever topped Tolkien when it comes to depth and world building, and Bakker hasn’t, but he’s taken an admirable approach at least in his subversion of truth in his fantasy world.

Overall just an outstanding fantasy work that I can safely say stands head and shoulders above the rest.
November 2, 2021
I dont think I can express myself adequately after finishing The Thousandfold Thought. This book had one of the best and most satisfying end climaxes I have ever read. Its not easy to set such an ambitious story and manage to end it properly. The last chapters of this terrific trilogy were incredible. Homeric battles, revealing intellectual debates, dramatic events. All leading to a devastating and bitter finale that ended the first part of this apocalyptic tale leaving me numb and speechless. At the same time, those final sentences foreshadow the darkness that comes in the next books, keeping my expectations to tremendous heights. The Prince Of Nothing trilogy is now one of my all time favorites, if not in my top spot!

*Rereading note. Second time is even greater. I want to add that these books have one of the most heart wrenching love stories. Peerless in the genre
Profile Image for Leah.
275 reviews4 followers
February 3, 2017
I normally never really dislike books but this series takes the cake. It's not about it's writing or really it's plot; I absolutely hate these characters.

First off we have Kellhus or should I say Gary Sue to match all of Gary Sues. I get it, he's suppose to be inhuman in intellect and reading people. I get it after being hit over the head after every description that he's like no other man, he's so smart, he's so observant. He has intellect and skill, he talk and he can fight. More toward the third book I started to feel like "What the hell is the point of this story?" The plot comes down to a rather bloody and dramatic roadtrip where everyone just gushes over Kellhus. And I mean EVERYONE. There is absolutely NO ONE who doesn't like Kellhus. And the few that don't are promptly killed off, because, come on, Kellhus is just fantastic right? Xerius? Dead. Conphas? Dead. Cnaiur? Well he got sent off to die but then he came back but really....I'll get to this point later. And at the last page, Achamian finally takes the balls to stand up, for two lines. Too bad I won't read Aspect-Emperor because I'm sure it's just going to be an even longer pissing contest.

Next on our list is actually 2 people, namely Serwe and Esmenet, namely: BAKKER CANNOT WRITE FEMALES FOR SHIT. I was abhorred by how he chose to portray females as tools for fucking, getting pregnant, and getting married to. Absolutely none of the female named characters (which makes a grand totally of 3 counting Xerius' mother) have no higher a role than to fuck and breed with. So let's start of with Serwe, shall we? Her only defining trait that is every mentioned is how gosh darn good looking she is. Seriously. That's all that ever comes up. When Cnaiur meets her: Hurr she's so pretty. Let me devote my whole life to making her my wife because she's pretty. When Esmenet meets her: Aww no wonder Kellhus likes her, she's pretty. I wish I could be like her. When Achamian promptly cheats on Esmenet: Omg, sorry Esmi but she was just so gosh darn hot, what to you expect me to do? And so her role is to create conflict between Kellhus and Cnaiur. Then she gets pregnant. Then she gives birth. Then Bakker kills her off. Fantastic. What a worthless character.
Well then how about Esmenet? She's actually got a personality, right? Bakker keeps describing how intelligent she is, and how much she wants to actually mean something in a world where women are second class citizens. Great! Well great for the first book! And then the 2nd half of the 2nd book it just plummeted. Oh what's that Akka, you died? Well I guess I'll just fling myself into the arms of the guy closest to me because women have to have a man in their life or else the just fall apart, am I right guys? Oh what? Akka isn't dead? So then Esmenet's role now becomes "Let's create conflict between Achamian and Kellhus for the next book and a half" and stays that way. And what drives up the wall despite all this blatant sexism is that at the end of the 3rd book, when everything's said and done and Achamian STRAIGHT UP TELLS HER that Kellhus is not to be trusted. SHE STILLS STAYS WITH HIM because why? OMG AKKA YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND, I'M PREGNANT AND THUS I MUST STAY WITH THE MAN WHO IMPREGNATED ME BECAUSE THAT'S ALL I'M GOOD FOR IN LIFE. Are you kidding me?!

And before you feel I'm too biased because I'm female, let me just say, Bakker also does a horrible job with writing men. Seriously, the downfall of most of the male characters is because they're fucking SEX FIENDS. The only reason stopping Cnaiur from slitting Kellhus throat most times was unbearable urge to screw Serwe. He just couldn't take that Kellhus was getting some from her and not him. REALLY? Second example. Achamian cheats on the love of his life and probably skews their relationship because why? WELL SERWE WAS RIGHT THERE AND SHE WAS HOT SO YEAH.....Are you kidding me? Look I'm all for sex in books and have no qualms about it but if your plot is just riddled with sex scene after sex scene and all your females' main concern is getting raped in the next chapter (which both Serwe and Esmenet are, of fucking course.) THEN YOU HAVE A PROBLEM.

I seriously could go on, this rant last all three books but I'll spare anyone reading this anymore agony. I picked up this series because of it's multitude of good reviews, but now I'm putting it down wondering how can anyone read through this horrendous display of characterization without one moment of "What the hell are these people even doing?"
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for SAM.
248 reviews5 followers
January 16, 2020
I'm neither impressed or satisfied with the conclusion to this trilogy. Books 1 and 2 were full of plot, character depth and lots of philosophy and the dark ending to Book 2 set up the finale nicely. Or at least it should have. The Thousandfold Thought is a bit of a nothing book, which meanders along until finally the Holy War arrives at Shimeh with barely a hundred pages remaining. The long awaited meeting between Kellus and his father reminded me of Neo meeting the Architect in the Matrix; several pages of garbage resulting in a huge anti-climax. The whole experience was three or four steps below What Came Before!!

Doubt i'll bother with the second series he wrote.
Profile Image for D. Eric.
171 reviews2 followers
January 18, 2009
What a disappointing ending to an otherwise promising trilogy. Bakker almost abandons the Holy War until the very end then wraps it up in a somewhat disjointed and confusing finale that lacks any depth of understanding. Instead, the reader is subjected to a cerebral cacophony of redundant "mumbo-jumbo" that really seems to beg the question of the story, especially the importance of Khellus' father. By the end of the story, it seems Bakker is more interested in setting up his next series rather than closing this one satisfactorily. Worth reading if you really want to find out what happens with the Holy War, but don't expect to completely understand how and why things unfold as they do.
Profile Image for Chris Berko.
466 reviews115 followers
August 16, 2018
What a tremendous letdown. This book seems like it was written by a five year old. Gone is the political intrigue and personal drama of the first one, gone is the coherency of the large scale battles and the flowing of the story as a whole. There were long periods where I was extremely bored but I pressed on hoping for something special because of how much I loved the first two and the trust I was developing in the author but C'mon man, that ending was about as anticlimactic as they come. 1800 pages of buildup and I was left saying, "Really?!?! That's it?"
Profile Image for Tammy.
76 reviews35 followers
March 10, 2016
A strong conclusion to this epic series. I really enjoyed this book and i'm a huge fan of Bakker's writing style. The story itself was amazing, the plotlines and plot twists, the unexpected happening's here and there, and these very real characters.
I also just noticed just how many awesome minor characters there are in the series, characters that are not the center of attention but whose deeds have important impacts nonetheless. Some of these are Earl Athjeari (very resourceful in battle tactics, always thinking two steps ahead), King Saubon(self-made king, called the Blond-Beast by his enemies), Yalgrotta(the giant, ever there to encourage his comrades in battle), Prince Proyas...so many more.
Scott Bakker deserves praise and respect for this series as a whole. Its scale is immense, its world is alive. Its by no means a light read, as dark and gritty as it gets, but if you like epic fantasy with an epic scale with flawed and complex characters, a series that challenges your intellect, then you will enjoy this.
The characters of Kellhus, Achamian, and Cnauir are part of my favorite characters I've come across in fantasy. (The conception and writing of Kellhus on its own is an achievement in my book)
On to the Aspect Emperor series.
Profile Image for Pranav Prabhu.
169 reviews57 followers
August 31, 2021
“Ignorance was ever the iron of certainty, for it was as blind to itself as sleep. It was the absence of questions that made answers absolute—not knowledge!”

The first novel focused on the political machinations before the Holy War, while the second focused on the bulk of the Holy War itself. The Thousandfold Thought delves into the philosophical and metaphysical aspects of the world and its history. With compelling characters and stories, great battle scenes, and evocative writing, it was a great conclusion to the Prince of Nothing Trilogy, though the ending itself felt less like a decisive resolution and more like setting the stage for the main story in the subsequent quartet.

I found Achamian and Esmenet to be the most compelling characters in this book: they are flawed, human characters making difficult choices, grappling with their places in a changing world, navigating complicated situations, and dealing with a lot of internal conflict. Their journeys and how they intersect and influence each other were the plotlines I was the most invested in. Where they end up has me interested in how their arcs will progress in the subsequent series. Kelhus remains a fascinating but despicable figure; I found him more interesting here than in the previous book, getting some more of his PoVs and seeing how previous events have affected him and his plans.

Cnaiur's early chapters were harder to parse, with the obscured writing reflecting his fragmented mental state. I definitely preferred reading PoVs like Achamian and Esmenet, but the resolution to some of the politics from the first book with Conphas and Saubon, along with Cnaiur's unique perspective was engaging to read, especially as the book progressed. The obscurity and metaphorical nature of the writing in these parts did contribute to my liking it a bit less since I was invested more in the other sections anyway. Each of the major characters had some good payoff by the end and I am looking forward to continuing their journeys from the positions they ended up in.
“That hope is little more than the premonition of regret. This is the first lesson of history.”

My favourite parts of the book were those that delved into the lore and history of the First Apocalypse and explained the theories behind the metaphysics and sorcery in this world. Achamian's lectures on the different schools of sorcery and how they affect reality, as well as his visions of Golgotterath and the First Apocalypse in the distant past, were fascinating. It was great to learn more about the motivations and history of the Consult and to get information about other races like the Inchoroi. There were also some riveting conversations speculating on the nature of souls and existence, of the physical world and the Outside, discussing intriguing ideas and implications. There is a large, detailed glossary at the back of the book with a lot of interesting information about the history and origin of the races and kingdoms, especially with important events prior and leading up to the Apocalypse. While I wish some of it had been incorporated into the story itself more, it was still a great and necessary read.

The last few chapters were fantastic, with great payoff and momentous events and decisions. The storming of Shimeh, the final objective of the Holy War, was definitely all that it promised to be: swathes of clashing armies, explosively glorious sorcerous battles, tense confrontations, and great character moments and resolutions. The sweeping PoVs that Bakker uses to describe battles and the amazing prose are reminiscent of epic tales. The long-promised confrontation and conversation at the end were also great, with riveting dialogue and philosophy, though it was dense at times and confusing to understand all the layers and subtext clearly, which isn't an issue in this case since it gave the discussion more depth.

Considering this series as a whole, I enjoyed both The Warrior Prophet and The Thousandfold Thought equally, although they focused more on different aspects of the overall story. I'm definitely interested to see how the wider story of the Second Apocalypse will play out in The Aspect-Emperor quartet since this trilogy almost felt like a prologue for larger things to come.
Profile Image for Raja.
159 reviews2 followers
December 3, 2008
The first book didn't sell me, but the latter two had me absolutely enthralled. This is a fantasy series that is unabashedly dark -- if you like authors who shy away from the harsh realities of violence, war, and the periods in human history that most fantasy series draw inspiration from, then stay far, far away. If you don't mind that stuff, or if, you find it helps draw you further into the world, I haven't encountered a better dark fantasy series in my lifetime. Glen Cook's Black Company is a close second.

It's also unapologetically intelligent, and not in the "use a lot of proper Nouns without explaining what they mean" way of many fantasy epics. This is intelligent fantasy partly because it tackles complex themes using complex characters, but mostly because it doesn't explain everything. Not every question is answered; not every ambiguity is clarified. If that bothers you, don't read these books.

Me? This might be my favourite fantasy series, actually.
Profile Image for Sud666.
1,936 reviews159 followers
April 13, 2021
R. Scott Bakker's "Prince of Nothing" series concludes with this third book. While the overall story is superb, the events of the third book, especially near the final third, seemed to be a bit abrupt, if not rushed. I now see there is a series that comes after this (The Aspect Emperor series) and that helps to alleviate the mild disappointment with the ending.

Having prefaced why I deducted a star from this overwhelmingly excellent series, now let us get into the story. Anasûrimbor Kellhus has worked his wiles and manipulated the hearts and minds of men (and women). Seen as the Warrior-Prophet, he leads the Armies of the Tusk towards their goal of Shimeh.
While Kellhus seeks power and his father, Anasûrimbor Moënghus, the other major players from the Schoolmen to the Consult, all make their moves. Yet, only a few even have a concept of what Kellhus really is. Perhaps the only one who understands the diabolic levels of Kellhus' manipulation is the Scylvendia warrior- Cainur.
As Kellhus gathers his powers and learns from Achiman, the events of the Holy War rage on. It is only near the end, you begin to slimpse what Kellhus has in mind for the entire world. Kellhus is a superb character- morally ambiguous, though people revere him as a Prophet. His plans and his schemes are far removed from the concerns of everyday people.

While the story will continue in the next series, this one does a very good job of giving us an idea as to why Kellhus started the Holy War, and we also get a great deal of revelation about Mathinet, the Consult and even the machinations of Moënghus.

While the ending is a bit rushed, the overall excellence of this series can not be overstated. At once a completely new vision of fantasy, but well steeped in the traditional characters and setting that make fantasy so popular. A different vision, with a Crusades-like story and a hefty shot of philosophy. Certainly one of the more original and different stories out there.

I certainly shall go hunt down the rest of this series, just to see how it all turns out in the end.
Profile Image for Twerking To Beethoven.
367 reviews64 followers
January 5, 2018
This was a GRANDIOSE epilogue to an amazing saga. Don't expect me to properly review the book because I would end up spoiling the whole thing. Trust me on this one, it was bloody good, that's all.

Oi, Vlad, what do you think mate?

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Profile Image for Beckylanaway22.
99 reviews3 followers
July 26, 2022
Whyyyyyyyyyyy is this not more talked about from lovers of fantasy.

Lovers of literature in general! BLASPHEMY!

Lost count of how many passages raised the hairs on my arms.

Masterful story telling.

"Soundless light broken through beads of dew. Dark canvas faces steaming. Shadows stretching from engines of war, slowly shrinking. Hues of grey bleeding into a canopy of colours. The far tracts of the sea flashing gold.
Morning. The beginning of the world's slow bow before the sun."

So atmospheric, so engaging.

Also Akka is bad ass. Hope he survises the next books 🙏❤️
Profile Image for fantasy fiction is everything.
195 reviews119 followers
August 3, 2022
R. Scott Bakker has written a controversial series, The Second Apocalypse. This series consists each elemental which epic fantasy books are required, battle scenes, characters development, alien races in fantasy world, splendid magic fights etc. This series already has enough elemental for readers to devour. Furthermore, It has two main essentials of things: grandiose backstories and abundantly grotesque monsters to stun readers. Also philosophies somehow integrate into magic system naturally in this series. I was scarcely shocked by the reading experience with such extraordinary subversion to fantasy genre, on the other hand, this series is grim and gritty for most readers, it could result depress reading experiences after reading it. it contains turmoil and mayhem of battle scenes, despair of sieges, sinister and frenzy characters who devote to gods or not. And our protagonist, Anasûrimbor Kellhus was a extremely unlikable character in fantasy genre on standard, his repulsive POV would repelled most character driven readers new to this fantasy series but it's flesh and compelling to some veteran fantasy readers. This is why the series is very controversial to readers, multiple things could be discussed as Malazan series.
The writing style is very dense but not too wordy to read, on the contrary, its unique writing would impress me as archaic relics would be revived by the writing itself. Not too flowery to follow the story but subtle enough to crave more meanings of subcontexts. I feel the writing perfectly portraits the morbid and gruesome scenes, it has a lot in the series! Each book of the series are Too visual to be read in bedtime, maybe it requires reader's courage in order to step into the threshold of The Second Apocalypse world. Actually, the writing undoubtedly radiates authentic artistry as a pure gem of masterpiece in fantasy genre. It was extracted verbosity from words to condense into sublime sentences. I'm really keen to the descriptions of some specific scenarios of which are related to horrific monstrosities. Monsters in this world were actually manifested by Bakker's writings, they were not appendages to plots or as plot devices, felt like the monsters has been skulking in our real world not just in the series, the book not just reflects horrible things could occur to our life, also manifests the nightmare as verity of illustionary demons. The motifs of what we belief in this series move throughout as philosophic themes to ask readers that religion could turn worshippers into blindfold mobs to hazard those people have different belief. This series acquires attention to concentrate on the motifs.
The story is not very difficult in The Thousandfold Thought, it's the conclusion of the holy war, Kelhus finally found his father and discovered the trigger point of the holy war which commence to intertwine with other forces in the holy war. The colloquies with Kelhus's father were very thrilling , its analysis dissected the demeanour of societies and human conscious etc; that specially displayed the blunt thesis to readers.
Kelhus is an interesting character compares to regular fantasy character I've read. But I totally comprehend why the model like him wouldn't be praised among readers owing to complexities and exposed statements, me not all agree with his observations but I appreciate them all.
In retrospect, I think Kelhus is like us, real human being even the majority of people despise him. I grew up in a family which the members of my family has been doing similar things like him but without knowledge and insight as him. My sister always wants to manipulate other people by saying the right thing at right moments, and show that she is convincing and generous in socialization, doesn't it sound like Kelhus? But she never, never admits it because in real life, everyone needs to have second mask to wear in public. We are all walking in
the precipice of mundane life, we’re all afraid of judgements, as if we judge other persons too hush to bare the consequence of enmity from others. My sister is like my father, just tries to exhibit the surface of kindness toward to others but deeply inside their thoughts, they are similar to those people who use the same method as Kelful, for me they are more disgusting than fictional characters. Although, It's reasonable, why? In 21 century, basically our life are based on money, works, and reputation. Of course, not just those things sustain life but when we are working with acquaintances, colleagues even with families, we all pretend and hide our own thoughts inside. burst feelings could jeopardize long term relationship or careers. Always be cautious first than show your criticizes to people whom are intimacy to you , the sub work principles in workplaces are resemble to that. Always give other people good impression than venture yourself in losing your reputation.
Anyway, I may reedit this review, I haven't written anythings about magic system and the philosophy in this book..... A excellent conclusion of Prince of Nothing series for those people who want an novelty reading experience, highly recommend!
Profile Image for Andris.
331 reviews57 followers
August 27, 2022
Autors paņēmis krusta karus, piešāvis klāt mesijas otro atnākšanu un feishagerus un pasniedzis to visu visnotaļ Tolkieniskā manierē. Te par vērienu un ideju vien jāliek 5 zvaigznes, lai gan autora aizraušanās ar seksu, tai skaitā masveida un vardarbīgu, sāka nogurdināt.
Profile Image for Tomás Sendarrubias García.
723 reviews10 followers
August 9, 2020
Bueno, mantengo las cinco estrellas para esta trilogía, y le daría más si pudiera. Por partes.

En El Pensamiento de las Mil Caras nos encontramos con la continuación natural de El Profeta Guerrero. Después de todo lo ocurrido en los libros anteriores y de la revelación de Anasurimbor Kellhus como el Último Profeta, después de todas las muertes en las diversas batallas, de luchar contra el desierto y contra la enfermedad, la Guerra Santa tiene ante ellos las tierras de Xerash y la Sagrada Amoteu, y en esta, el objetivo de todo lo que han vivido, la Ciudad Santa de Shimeh. Pero muchas cosas han cambiado. Drusas Achamian ha vuelto de su cautiverio por los Chapiteles Escarlatas para encontrarse con que Esmenet es ahora la esposa de Kellhus, Xinemus está roto por fuera y por dentro después de intentar rescatar a Achamian; Ikurei Conphas está considerado un traidor, pero es el nuevo Emperador, y Cnaiur el scylvendio es ahora su carcelero; Serwë ha muerto... y Kellhus domina la Guerra Santa, aunque su objetivo sigue siendo simplemente encontrar a su padre. Y por supuesto, el Consulto sigue moviéndose entre bastidores, con la amenaza de Segundo Apocalipsis y el regreso del No-Dios pendientes en el aire.

Con todas estas cartas sobre la mesa, Bakker construye un pedazo de final para esta primera parte de su historia, y lo hace en muchos niveles, y es que los últimos capítulos del libro me parecen una joya de la literatura de fantasía, en cuanto a ritmo y composición, y como es capaz de armonizar la gran batalla por Shimeh, que debe ser de lo más épico que he leído desde la Batalla del Abismo de Helm (con el enfrentamiento final entre los Chapiteles Escarlatas y los Cishaurim como una batalla mágica completamente acojonante, y la lucha más a pie entre la Guerra Santa y los kianene, que tienen más de una carta guardada en la manga), la resolución más íntima de los temas pendientes entre Esmenet y Achamian, y el encuentro filosófico entre Kellhus y Moënghus. Todo esto perfectamente cuadrado, y dándonos en todo el libro una gran sensación de profundidad, de dramatismo, de irreversibilidad casi agobiante.

Debería haber ostias por conseguir los derechos de la obra de Bakker, pero no parece haber interesados en España, y es una pena, porque además la historia continúa en una tetralogía posterior... Así que me estoy automotivando para leerla en inglés... Ya veré como sale la cosa...
Profile Image for Thomas Stacey.
188 reviews32 followers
August 6, 2021
The main story of this trilogy may have reached its climax, but this book raised so many more questions then it answered. I’m glad there’s 4 more books available, but will need to slow my roll if I don’t want to wait too long for the last 2-3 that haven’t been released yet.

If you fancy reading a fantasy series that’s epic in scale, with a richly detailed and dense history, with morally grey characters and a tense story that feels like a ticking time bomb ready to explode at any moment into tragedy and despair, then The Second Apocalypse is for you. 4 stars.
Profile Image for Redeagl.
20 reviews3 followers
February 6, 2017
This series is life changing.It ruined other books to me. I am lucky that I am easily pleased with books else there would have been a lot of negative ratings for every other book.
Profile Image for Michael Pang.
74 reviews33 followers
January 16, 2014
Disappointing end to the trilogy. As a whole the trilogy is good and Bakker creates a wonderfully rich setting. The series was a bit of a roller coaster for me, the first book I gave 4 stars, the second book a 5 stars and regrettably, 3 stars here. The first 1/2 of the book abandoned the Holy War and it wasn't till the 2nd half did it return to it. I guess I just didn't find the character Kelhus compelling enough to warrant moving away from the events of the Holy War. I will say the 2nd half has some great large scale battle scenes that really paint a vivid picture in the reader's mind. A strong 2nd half finish combined with an average conclusion earns this book 3 stars.
Profile Image for Ned Ludd.
707 reviews16 followers
October 21, 2018
Speechless. Utterly, incorrigibly fucking speechless! 5++
Profile Image for Logan.
94 reviews43 followers
November 17, 2009
Oh...this book. Not only did it take me forever to get through it, but it also left me entirely unsatisfied. About halfway through the book I decided it was only getting two stars (a fantastic final scene in which Achamian finds within him the strong, vicious man I always knew he could be made me consider giving it three, but it just doesn't deserve it).

Three books ago, I stumbled upon The Prince of Nothing and was immediately intrigued by its promise of wasted kingdoms, dark history, sorcery, long-forgotten royalty, and the doom of a Second Apocalypse. I bought book one for those things; I kept reading for those things; and I am disappointed because I never received those things. Sure, the Second Apocalypse looms in the background, but it is not the driving force of the plot in this trilogy. What drives the plot here is the Holy War and Anasurimbor Kellhus's rise to the title of Warrior-Prophet and Aspect-Emperor.

This isn't necessarily bad (I can see the set-up for the second trilogy, Aspect-Emperor), but it becomes incredibly tedious when there is nothing to like about Kellhus. Believe me, I've tried to like him. I've never tried as hard to like a character as I've tried to like Kellhus. But I just can't. He's awful. And I don't mean to say that he's got an awful personality (he doesn't have one at all) or that he's awful because he does terrible things (which he does), what I'm saying is that he's awful as a character. I've read three books in which Kellhus plays a prominent role as the trilogy's namesake (Prince of Nothing), but I still know absolutely nothing about what motivates him. I don't understand what he is doing or why he is doing it, which makes it impossible to like him when does things such as use and manipulate the only character in this entire series worth liking: Achamian.

What really hurt this final book, though, is the ending. It jumped from place to place, person to person, and became little more than a jumble of confusing images and events. I'm still not quite sure what happened during the last moments of the Holy War, and my brain still hurts from some of the philosophical fluff that filled most of the pages dealing with Kellhus and his father. The ending, as a whole, was rushed and unsatisfying (except for that fantastic scene with Achamian I mentioned earlier). It really seemed like Bakker had already moved on to the next trilogy and suddenly realized he hadn't ended this one.

Also, I need to add that I am painfully intrigued by the events of the First Apocalypse, the appearance of the Inchoroi, the tragedy of the Nonmen, and the return of the No-God. My desire to know more is what kept me reading this far, but there's not much revealed on these subjects beyond the glossary. I'm tempted to read The Judging Eye in hopes of learning more about them and of finally getting to the Second Apocalypse, but I've lost faith in Bakker. I'm still just as uncertain as I was after The Darkness That Comes Before.

I'm a stubborn optimist when it comes to books—especially fantasy as deep and intricate as this—but I'm just so disappointed. There is such potential, but I don't think I can endure another few books of Kellhus, which is really a shame. The world and races and history Bakker creates in this series are some of the most intriguing I have ever come across, but it's a slow and challenging read that offers up very little reward for your time.
Profile Image for Bryan.
80 reviews
July 16, 2013
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Bakker's style has a number of strengths which I felt were brought to the fore with this, the last book in the first of three planned trilogies in the world of Earwa. Firstly, the Homeric large-scale battles were depicted quite well, as in The Warrior-Prophet (although toward the end, I was a little tired of the phrase "death came swirling down"). Secondly, Bakker's non-Kellhus characters kept developing in real and believable ways, even though I was a trifle surprised by the relative non-lethality of his approach toward his main characters (in this gritty style of fantasy I always sort of half-expect one of the main characters to bite it, and I thought for sure that Cnaiur would be the one, mostly 'cause he's bat-shit crazy). Lastly, Bakker's encyclopedic historical approach to world-building finally gets its chance to shine. The appendix was intensely large, and pretty interesting (it's rare that I'll actually spend the time to read an appendix in a fantasy novel, but I did with this one, and enjoyed it too!).

I also really enjoyed the depth he gave his magic system which, although not fully explained, was given enough detail to help the reader understand the differences between the various styles of magic. I think the magic needs some more fleshing-out, but maybe he does that in succeeding novels.

Achamian's dreams of Seswatha's life were once again a high point for me. I just find everything about the No-God and the First Apocalypse and Golgotterath so cool and foreboding that the dream sequences were some of my favourite parts of this book. I also liked Achamian's transition from sorceror to wizard.

I've read some reviews which complained about how badass Kellhus is...and he is badass. In fact, he's the MOST badass motherfucker there is (in these books, anyways). I just don't fully understand why this is a problem for so many people. Fiction is full of completely unbeatable dudes, from Conan to Tarzan, Kvothe to Rand al'Thor, Achilles to Beowulf. I think what Bakker is doing differently here is asking "What if the superhero...isn't truly a hero?" This take on the so-called "Marty-Stu" archetype is fresh and interesting to me, and I have the suspicion that what some people may not like about this is that it eliminates a certain measure of wish-fulfillment for them, in that they don't want to imagine themselves to be someone who is so selfish and completely devoid of conscience. Unfortunately though, a conscienceless character is quite a bit more realistic than a pure-hearted, noble paladin. I can imagine that this doesn't sit well with some people.
Profile Image for Chad McGhie.
Author 2 books104 followers
December 26, 2022
A thrilling conclusion to The Prince of Nothing Trilogy, Bakker proves why he needs to be discussed more frequently. Building fear and tension to what is coming beyond, I don't know if I've ever been so fascinated by a character as I was by Anasûrimbor Kellhus. Truly, a terrifyingly unqiue character that will have you on your toes, praying for everyone else around him. Some mainstream authors have work to do to be on Bakker's level.
Profile Image for John Scroggins.
37 reviews9 followers
January 21, 2022
man what a book. again another 5-star book for me so that's 3 out of 3 from Bakker. I'm not sure I can adequately express how I feel about this series but I will try.. ill start with the prose. again beautiful writing and descriptions I don't think there were any repetitive or overused words or mannerisms that I noticed as with some books/series that has jarred me out of the story this was a very immersive book that like put me in the world and kept me there the whole time I was reading( mostly at night while the kids are sleeping) with brings me to the point of this is a very heavy series or dense series but not in a bad or boring way but in the best way possible like a really good steak that's cooked just right that you just want to take it slow and savor the experience of it. the only thing that comes close to this series is my all-time favorite series Malazan book of the fallen as in scope and worldbuilding and characters that I just loved and hated to see hurt and characters that I just wanted to kill myself!! Bakker made them feel so real and alive so human it was almost like reading a history of our world at times the background was so detailed. again the only comparison I can give is Malazan because nothing else compares iv heard that you will either love Bakker or hate it so I belive I'm I'm in the ill die on this hill!! group of readers as this is shaping up to come close to Malazan as my top favorite series. I'm very excited to continue with this series. p.s. the encyclopedia in the last 200 or so pages on my tablet is packed FULL of the myths and legends place names and their history is like the coolest thing ever I wish more authors could include this type at the end of the book as I'm sure its an optional read but man it is so good as we get pieces in the main text but its spread out in small parts so it never feels like an info dump and leaves a lot to the reader to put together so having the encyclopedia is almost like a short stay in its self as it adds so much to the main timeline I just love it and everything else about this series.
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