|Submitted by firstname.lastname@example.org |
(Jan 23, 2006)
The Prince of Nothing series, which raises more questions than it answers in its first two books, culminates when the Holy War at last reaches Shimeh. That is to say, roughly the last quarter of The Thousandfold Thought. This creates a suspense that is two-fold. On the one hand, we want to know the fate of the characters. On the other, we seem to be watching a writer on a tight rope who has to make this final book work so that the entire series can work.
Seeing Bakker deliver is astonishing. Here is a writer of tremendous confidence and craftsmanship. From the gripping battle at Shimeh to the long awaited encounter that finds Khellus face-to-face with Moenghus - an appropriately Kurtz-like figure - the novel does not waver. It is bold to the last.
As much as this novel inspires awe, some readers may find themselves in equal part bereft by its dark heart. A series that began with "The Wastes of Kuniuri" as its opening prologue concludes with what I would call The Wastes of Shimeh and the promise of more bloodshed. The closing images are deeply troubling, and they linger: bloody footprints, a pregnant woman prostrate on the ground. This all creates a rather black portrait of the human experience.
The novel, like the rest of the series, has weight and dimension. When followed to its literary heights, it generates a feeling more vertiginous than uplifting. The philosophical underpinnings are compelling but not for the feint of heart. As we end with the looming prospect of an apocalypse we think Bakker's world, like Eliot's, will end not with a bang but with a whimper.