The White Luck Warrior (and a new fantasy book club)
I just finished R. Scott Bakker’s novel The White Luck Warrior (Available at Amazon) a couple days ago. It’s the second book in his Aspect-Emperor trilogy and the fifth in his series The Second Apocalypse which is comprised of three trilogies. So this is the middle book of the middle trilogy. It’s also the best book so far, and one of the finest pieces of epic fantasy literature I’ve ever read.
The Prince of Nothing trilogy which preceded The Aspect-Emperor was excellent, but it was slow, bogged down by an enormous amount of philosophy and exposition. Sometimes that slowness was just right, sometimes it dragged.
The first trilogy was also dark. A few moments were hard to stomach, and I think Bakker erred by taking it too far at times, making the series less accessible to wider audiences.
Fortunately, the second trilogy is much better. The first book, The Judging Eye, was off to a bit of a slow start, but ended with one of the most extraordinary battle scenes I’ve read in a fantasy. (Indeed, Bakker’s battles are all extraordinary.)
But The White Luck Warrior took the series to a new level. The pacing and narrative are tighter than ever. Bakker avoids the mistakes of some of his contemporaries (cough, Martin, cough) by not adding too many point-of-view characters, weaving the story together with three narrative arcs (and about six POV characters) that perfectly compliment one another, pushing the story along at a strong pace without getting bogged down in too much exposition or irrelevant story lines.
More of the back story and more hints to the various mysteries are revealed, and there’s enough payout to satisfy readers without giving away too much. The book ends on three sharp cliffhangers, but it’s okay – Bakker has been putting these novels out every two years or so, so you won’t have to wait long to find out what happens next.
And on that note…
Starting in November, I will be rereading all of these books and doing a book club here at The League for anyone interested. We’ll start reading the first book, The Darkness that Comes Before, next week. You can purchase it at Amazon.
For everyone who’s been reading the Martin books, I hope you decide to read along with these as well. I hope my Martin co-bloggers here, like Daniel, will decide to chime in on these books. I know Ryan has been working his way through already, so I imagine he’ll have a few things to say.