The second novel in R. Scott Bakker’s The Prince of Nothing saga continues to push the envelope in terms of complexity and tension. The Holy War begun in The Darkness that Comes Before continues to sweep the world of Eärwa. The following of Anusûrimbor Kellhus, the titular Warrior Prophet, grows, just as the opposition to what he represents, grows in size. Kellhus is a conundrum, part Christ-figure, part Buddha-figure, some feel he is a harbinger of the impending doom set to sweep the world, others feel he is the savior who will prevent the destruction of the world.
Following and teaching Kellhus, is Drusas Achamian, the Mandate Scholar who has been waiting his whole life, as well as the life of all who preceded him, to proclaim another Anusûrimbor in the face of the returning No-God. The implications of what Kellhus represents as a person and as a symbol are biblical, apocalyptical, so of course there will be much strife in the world once it knows of his existence. Throughout the novel, we see the chaos he causes, or rather this aforementioned knowledge of his existence causes. Rumors of the No-God’s return have always been floating through the winds of gossip, but with the advent of Kellhus’s coming, this rumor grows into fearful belief. Bakker does an excellent job of capturing the tension, fear, and hatred of what people might feel at the advent of such a world-shattering event. At the center of this tension is Drusas. Early on, he flutters between what his training tells him to believe of Kellhus and what his heart urges him to have faith in, regarding what Kellhus represents. It is truly fascinating to see Drusas unfold in the heart of the conflict, to see him still holding faith in Kellhus, despite what even his wife-like lover, Esmenet.
In comparing The Warrior Prophet to The Darkness that Comes Before, where Darkness was an opening novel focusing on the world of Eärwa, the plot and story moves to the forefront in Warrior. However, Bakker still peppers in ample details about the world as Kellhus makes his way across the world. One other thing that Bakker should be commended for is including a brief synopsis of the previous volume in the opening “What Went Before” section. Often with series books, there is a lag between volumes of a year or more. It is nice to have this refresher prior to delving into the current volume.
While I felt the emotional struggles Drusas experienced were interesting, at times, it seemed as if Bakker returned to this a bit too often—bordering on browbeating the reader with the strain Drusas experienced. That aside, all told, this is a bountiful continuation of The Darkness that Comes Before. I particularly enjoyed the depth of emotion Bakker puts on display in this epic tale, the type where very often, the emotions of the people can be lost in the greater struggle of groups or factions. Hopefully for US readers, Bakker’s work will be soon to appear on the shelves of the local bookstores.
Reviewed by Rob H. Bedford
© 2004 Rob Bedford