First installment of a new epic fantasy trilogy, set 20 years after Bakker’s Prince of Nothing series.
Anasûrimbor Kellhus, the Aspect-Emperor of the Three Seas, has gathered a vast army to prevent the Second Apocalypse. Forced to join this holy war, conquered King Sorweel finds himself unwillingly affected by Kellhus’s overpowering charisma. Meanwhile, Empress Esmenet maintains a shaky hold on the imperial court, threatened by assassins, religious dissent and her seven-year-old son Kelmomas, a murderous psychopath gifted at covering his tracks. In a distant land, Drusas Achamian, the exiled Wizard who still resents Kellhus for taking away Esmenet, seeks the enigmatic Aspect-Emperor’s birthplace in hopes it will shed light on his motivations. Not much actually happens in this book. Bakker’s poetic, almost baroque work appeals to a cerebral, patient reader willing to stick around and see what he has in mind. (Hopefully, that reader has already completed the prior trilogy; the synopsis included here is not entirely sufficient.) The author spends more time developing intricate philosophies and emotionally resonant characters than in advancing the plot, which concludes with a Mines-of-Moria sequence that, while extremely atmospheric, still feels like a cheat for such an accomplished writer as Bakker.
Best left to his devoted fan base; others may not have the stamina.