This is more of a rant than a review.
The White Luck Warrior is the 5th book in R. Scott Bakker’s Prince of Nothing Series. It is also the second book of The Aspect Emperor Trilogy. I fucking hated it.
Bakker has filled a lot of pages with his story of Anasurimbor Kellhus over the years. After three bookstopping tomes that were a mixture of painfully boring and surprisingly fun, I expected him to just fade into obscurity. But no, he just had to follow up with a whole new trilogy, and I just had to freaking read it.
Here’s my ever-growing beef with Bakker. He’s such a goddamn nihilist. Every POV is filled with musings on the worst aspects of humankind, the world, God, the gods, and anything else anyone can find time to complain about. Every arc ends in tragedy. Everything is meaningless. Despite the fact that he’s spent 5 lengthy novels telling a story about people trying to save the world, he fails to make Earwa (a fictional medieval planet that has been colonized by humans and then invaded by aliens) a place worth saving. The POVs in this book consist of:
A sociopathic murdering child obsessed with his mother
A former whore who is adopted into royalty and then flees it
A disillusioned and bitter wizard who is lying to everyone to get them to follow him on a suicidal quest that he knows will get his crew killed horribly
A prince taken hostage by an emperor that killed his family
A whore who became an Empress and now hates her job and wishes she could be a whore again
If that isn’t enough to keep you away, know that no one enjoys anything at all in this book. The soldiers hate soldiering. The food is always gross. The killers hate killing. The wizards hate magic. The whores hate sex. The drinkers hate drinking. I guess the Sranc (basically LotR Orcs) really enjoy their job of killing people and then having sex with the corpses, but we only get one chapter from their POV and it is blessedly short.
There’s a particular plotline about a group of mercenaries who go on “The Slog of Slogs” in this book and I think that should have actually been the name of the whole thing. I powered through this because I wanted to see how it ended, but I am happy to report that I am completely, thoroughly, inexorably over Bakker and his nihilism. It’s just too damn depressing.
The only reason I picked up The White Luck Warrior, and the tome before it, was because I genuinely enjoyed Kellhus’s journey through the first trilogy. He’s a supersmart wizard with an uncanny ability to manipulate people. And there’s no doubt that he’s the star of this trilogy as well. However, we get no POVs from him. He is basically just a supporting character who shows up to save whatever day needs saving. I was sad to see this attempt to create distance between the audience and Kellhus. Bakker tries to leave us wanting more, but instead just removes the best part of his previous work.
If anyone every tries to convince you to read Bakker’s work, tell them to go fuck themselves. Seriously.