Monday, July 21, 2014

Review: The Thousandfold Thought

The Thousandfold Thought
The Thousandfold Thought by R. Scott Bakker

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The subtitle for this book should really be "Diary of an Arsehole Messiah". The villains of the piece are such demonic, world-destroying, moustache-twirling, violence-gives-them-a-hardon, one-dimensional sterotypes of puppy-kicking evil that it's silly, but that's almost necessary so you can tell them apart from the "good" guys. Who are, almost to a man, violent, manipulative, amoral rapists. This book has a cast of thousands, and there are basically three characters I feel any sympathy with at all. This emphatically does _not_ include the leader (by this book, anyways) of the merry murderous band, Kelhus, who is basically a super-smart manipulative conman, who co-opts a Holy War by pretending to be a prophet, steers it towards even more violence because that's the direction he fancies going, and then abandons them to their fate as soon as he has no more use for them. I'm not saying I have a lot of sympathy for Holy Wars, but at least you could say that some of the other characters are deluded by their upbringing; Kelhus is a fake and knows it - we get that clearly from his perspective chapters - he just uses other people's delusions to cause death and destruction for his own convenience.

Which was another odd thing about the series and this book. In early books, we get a regular dose of chapters from Kelhus' POV, which reminds us that he is just conning people. Then he gets crucified and declared a holy prophet and that stops for half of this book. Without his POV, we only see him through the eyes of believers, which makes you start to wonder if he has started drinking his own Kool-Aid. Then suddenly the con-man is back at the end, and we can see that yes, it really was all fake. It feels like a reveal / twist, except we had it spelled out in black-and-white in the books before...

I did give this a second star though, because I liked the depth of the history and society, and the way he describes magic. That's all it gets though.

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