If you’re reading this review, then there’s no need to go into any rigamarole about THE PRINCE OF NOTHING or THE ASPECT-EMPEROR series by R. Scott Bakker. Point blank: The White Luck Warrior (2011) superbly escalates the story begun in The Judging Eye, and indirectly so the THE PRINCE OF NOTHING series, to leave the reader on the doorstep, panting for more. The Unholy Consult is going to be as epic as epic fantasy gets.
Where The Judging Eye expends much of its energy re-setting the pieces on the board and putting them in motion, The White Luck Warrior opens with the pieces already in motion — and in some cases, exhausted from the rousing conclusion to The Judging Eye. Though there are lulls and eddies, The White Luck Warrior moves these pieces’ stories at full-steam. The Great Ordeal, still marching its way across the great plain, encounters unheard-of swarms of sranc; Akka and his daughter still head toward the coffers of Mimara to learn the roots of the Aspect-Emperor; and things in Momemm remain politically unsettled as Kelhus’ family continues to implode.
To say the book is non-stop action is one step too far, but whether it be tense scenes involving Kelhus’s mad children or Sorweel discovering his role in the great ordeal, learning about the Non-man’s real history or what dragon’s bones mean, Bakker ramps up the action at a steady, engaging pace leading directly into the concluding volume. If everything continues to move in the directions hinted at, The Unholy Consult is going to be one hell of a climax.
So yes, if you like what you’ve read so far, The White Luck Warrior is just as good, if not the best yet. Digging ever deeper into the implications of the Great Ordeal as plot revelations and twists appear, it’s a middle volume that heightens the stakes rather than leaving them out to dry. The harsh, brooding mood of the prior books continues to address Bakker’s uber-grimdark agenda in philosophical as much as plot-centric fashion.
This leads me to believe that if The Unholy Consult is as good as The White Luck Warrior, and George R.R. Martin continues to be unable to focus the storyline of A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, Bakker may be able to say he has written the best epic fantasy series of the modern era.