The Seer King by Chris Bunch

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Book Information  
AuthorChris Bunch
TitleThe Seer King
SeriesSeer King trilogy
Book Reviews / Comments (submitted by readers)
Submitted by Anonymous
(May 28, 1999)

For those of us who grew up with the fantasy genre in our teens but now find that as we have gotten older
we can no longer read the stories, fear not, for there are still some books out there worth reading. In
a time when the fantasy genre seems to be marketing heavily towards the teen-age generation, it is hard to
find fantasy novels written for the mature reader, but “The Seer King” delivers to us an enjoyable novel
with mature characters. The story departs a little bit from the norm in the fantasy genre in that a dying
man tells it. From his cell in a remote island, we learn of the life of Damastes à Cimabue, ex-tribune of
the Numantian Empire. The story is told in the first person, but from the point of view of a mature man in
the twilight of his life who is looking back on his deeds. Therefore, a lot of times we receive
supplemental information from him.

The narrator assumes that we are a Numantian who is familiar with the story of Damastes’s rise
to power and his later downfall. However, the premise for the account is that Damastes’s story has been so
often romanticized that he wants to tell it right. Throughout the story we get references to these
romanticized accounts of his story and Damastes sets out to correct the account. However, this fiction is
not kept up for long and eventually these comparisons become rarer and rarer. All in all, the author
handled this point of view rather well. There are a few points in the book (two to be precise) in which
the author loses control of the narrative and switches from the first person historical perspective to the
third person omniscient narrator (obviously the book could have used some proofreading as well as an editor).

The narrative is fast. True to the perspective of the soldier, the narrator does not spend much
time on details. This works out wonderfully for the modern reader, since the narrative flows more in tune
to the taste of twentieth century readers as opposed to the usual narratives that we get in the fantasy
genre where the author assumes that the only good novels were written in the nineteenth century or the
early part of the twentieth century and therefore feel the need to write as if they lived in that time
(i.e. descriptions galore). Since the narrator assumes that we are part of his culture, most things are
not explained. However, just like a joke where if you need it explained to you, you have obviously missed
the joke, the culture needs no explanation for it comes alive in the daily interactions of the characters.
We learn about magic and the gods not through the experienced dissertations of someone who theorizes on the
more esoteric terms of these subjects, but through Damastes’s own beliefs and experiences with these. The
result is a very rich tapestry filled with different colors, since the world that the author has created
draws heavily from many different cultures and empires of the history of the world. The savvy reader will
find allusions to Hindu mythology and history as well as to Celtic myths. The overall religious system
seems very much akin to the Hindu one. There are also many parallels with the empires of Rome as well as
Egypt. Thus, drawing on all of these backgrounds the author is able to create a world that is complex and
new, a welcome change from the heavily Germanic fantasy genre.

The book is not without its own shortcomings and has several chapters which are nothing more
than filler. However, in an obvious effort to move away from the descriptions that have so severely
plagued the fantasy genre, the author fills up some of his book with sex scenes. Some of these scenes
he handles successfully, others are nothing to write home about. Overall, the characters are complex and
deal with mature problems. The relationships, although not the stuff out of which great literature is made
of, are complex and feel almost real. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has become a bit jaded
with the fantasy genre and needs a new infusion of enthusiasm for it.

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