Reread of The Warrior Prophet: Chapter Three

Reread of Prince of Nothing Trilogy

Book 2: The Warrior Prophet

by R. Scott Bakker

Part 1
The First March
Chapter 3
Asgilioch

Welcome to Chapter Three of my reread. Click here if you missed Chapter Two!

The proposition “I am the centre” need never be uttered. It is the assumption upon which all certainty and all doubt turns.

AJENCIS, THE THIRD ANALYTIC OF MEN

See your enemies content and your lovers melancholy.

AINONI PROVERB

My Thoughts

Achamian is at the center of his dilemma. To him, the fate of the universe rests on whether or not he turns in Kellhus. And while it might, it is still an arrogant belief. We are all the centers of our own universe. Sometimes, it is hard to see beyond that. Certainty and doubt are opposites of each other and yet the both come from the same place of “I must be right” or “I must be wrong.”

The Ainoni won is harder to parse. Achamian does have a schadenfreude-esque moment with Esmenet, taking pleasure in the fact she was fearful of the end of the world because it meant she believed But I don’t think that’s what the proverb mean. And it does say lovers not spouse. A content enemy is easy. Contentment breeds complacency which make sit easier to exploit someone. Perhaps a sad lover is equally easy to exploit. You can make them happy, come to have them rely on you. It’s a destructive belief but says a lot about the Ainoni character. They pride themselves on Jnan, on playing politics and double speak to its utmost, even wearing masks to hide their faces and not betray emotion.

Late Spring 4111 Year-of-the-Tusk, the fortress of Asgilioch

An earthquake strikes the ground around Ruöm, the fortress of Asgilioch, and destroys it. For centuries, the fortress had guarded the Nansur Empire from the Fanim jihads. It’s destruction is heralded as a disaster. Coithus Saubon’s Galeoth horseman were the first Men of the Tusk to discover the catastrophe. Survivors of the fortress proclaim the Holy War’s Doom. The Great Names begin to gather before the ruins, though the Ainoni’s host is absent, slowed by the Scarlet Spire’s large baggage trains. As the Holy War waits, rumors and “premonitions of disaster” fly.

While waiting on the Ainoni, Proyas calls a council of the Great and Lesser Names in the ruins of the fortress. They argue, Saubon wanting to march immediately and seize the passes of the Southern Gates, calling the ruins an illusion of safety, a “shibboleth of the perfumed and the weak-hearted.” Conphas points out the need the Scarlet Spire before they can march since Skauras has a large host assembled and the Cishaurim might be among them. Proyas and Cnaiür agree with Conphas, but no argument sways Saubon’s group. The group seems deadlocked until Kellhus speaks, saying the loss of Ruöm is not an accident or a curse.

Saubon laughed, shouting, “Ruöm is a talisman against the heathen, is it not?”

“Yes,” the Prince of Atrithau replied. “So long as the citadel stood, we could turn back. But now… Don’t you see? Just beyond these mountains, men congregate in the tabernacles of the False Prophet. We stand upon the heathen’s shore. The heathen’s shore!”

He paused, looked at each Great Name in turn.

“Without Ruöm there’s not turning back… The God has Burned our ships.”

The Holy War agrees to wait for the Scarlet Spire.

Far from Asgilioch, the Grandmaster of the Scarlet Spire, Eleäzaras, is in his chair while slaves wash his feet, one of the few comforts he has on the march. So far, it’s been an easy journey which makes him feel ashamed at being so tired at the end of the day. But he realizes it’s not a physical weariness, he used to walk all the time on missions for the Scarlet Spire, but the fact he dreads reaching Shimeh, and he is relieved each evening they haven’t got there yet.

Great decisions, he [Eleäzaras] reflected, were measured by their finality as much as by their consequences. Sometimes he could feel it like a palpable thing: the path not taken, that fork in history where the Scarlet Spire repudiated Maithanet’s outrageous offer, and watched the Holy War from afar. It didn’t exist and yet it lingered, the way a night of passion might linger in the entreating look of a slave. He saw it everywhere: in the nervous silences, in exchanged glances, in Iyokus’s unrelenting cynicism, in General Setpanares’s scowl. And it seemed to mock him with promise—just as the path he now walked mocked with with threat.

He dwells on the issues besetting them, the irony of a School mixing with a Holy War, the Nansur Empire plotting with the Fanim, the Mandate playing a game, their spies in Sumna all executed, the Shriah working “some dark angle.” He tells himself that regret is “the opiate of fools” as he relaxes, enjoying his new slave girl, a daring wench. He is about to enjoy her when a servant entered announcing a petitioner from the Mysunsai School named Skaleteas wants to speak to him. The man has ridden from Momemn and will speak only to Eleäzaras

Eleäzaras is not happy to be interrupted by the “whore.” The Mysunsai School are mercenaries, selling their talents Eleäzaras is not happy and lets Skaleteas know his displeasure at the breaking of protocols. Skaleteas rushes ahead with his news, explaining his the Auditor of the Imperial Family. He then asks about negotiating a fee. Eleäzaras finds that very low class. He doesn’t answer, and Skaleteas grows nervous and then adds it is about a new Cishaurim spy.

This gets Eleäzaras’s attention. Instead of negotiating a price, he speaks sorcery, scaring Skaleteas into speaking. He tells about Skeaös being a skin spy and what happened in the dungeon in Momemn at the end of The Darkness That Comes Before. Eleäzaras is shocked to learn the news. Eleäzaras grows interested when Achamian enters the story. Eleäzaras latches onto Achamian and the skin spy speaking in a tongue and the fact the skin spy recognized Achamian. Then it broke free and killed it over Achamian’s objection. He then describes the face coming apart and how the spy was “a mimic without the Mark!” Skaleteas insists it is Cishaurim work, part of their Psûkhe.

Numbness spilled like water from Eleäzaras’s chest to his limbs. I’ve wagered my School.

“But their Art is too crude…”

Skaleteas looked curiously heartened. “Nevertheless, it’s the only explanation. They’ve found some way of creating perfect spies… Think! How long have they owned the Emperor’s ear? The Emperor! Who knows how many…” He paused, apparently wary of speaking too close to the heart of the matter. “But this is why I rode so hard to find you. To warn you.”

Eleäzaras deals with his shock, then tells Skaleteas he will have to stay here to be interviewed Skaleteas objects since he has a contract, which Eleäzaras declares dissolved. Skaleteas, apologetically, says that is not possible. He just wants his money.

“Ah yes, your fee.” Eleäzaras stared hard at the Mysunsai, smiled with deceptive mildness. Poor fool. To think he’d underestimated the value of his information. This was worth far more than gold. Far more.

The Mysunsai’s face had gone blank. “I supposed I could delay my departure”

“You suppose—”

At that point, Eleäzaras almost died. The man had started his Cant the instant of Eleäzaras’s reply, purchasing a heartbeat’s advantage—almost enough.

Skaleteas’s lightning hits Eleäzaras’s wards. The pair trade attacks and use their wards for protection. Eleäzaras easily defeats Skaleteas before the Javreh bodyguards and Iyokus can enter. He’s shocked, demanding to know what is happening seeing Skaleteas in pain but alive. Eleäzaras hands over Skaleteas to Iyokus for interrogation and demands to know where Achamian is.

“Drusas Achamian must be brought to me,” Eleäzaras snapped, turning to Iyokus. “Brought to me or killed.”

Iyokus’s expression darkened.

“Something like that requires time… planning… He’s a Mandate Schoolman, Eli! Not to mention the risk of reprisals… What do we war against both the Cishaurim and the Mandate? Either way, nothing will be done until I know what is going on. It is my right!”

Before Eleäzaras can answer, he insists on feeling Iyokus’s face. He does and feels “proper bones” beneath his fingers.

Achamian is alone for the first night since they left on the march because of the meeting of the Great Names. Everyone but “the sorcerer and the slaves” were invited. So he is getting drunk. In the two weeks since telling Kellhus his dilemma had changed everything It was a rash act and did not ease his burden like expected. Now he sees anguish in Kellhus, doubling his burden. Kellhus asks what the Mandate would do to him.

“Take you to Atyersus. Confine you. Interrogate you… Now that they know the Consult runs amok, they’ll do anything to exercise the semblance of control. For that reason alone, they’d never let you go.”

“Then you mustn’t tell them, Akka!” There had been an anger and an anxiousness to these words, a cross desperation that reminded him of Inrau.

“And the Second Apocalypse. What about that?”

“But are you sure? Sure enough to wager an entire life”

A life for the world. Or the world for a life.

“You don’t understand! The stakes, Kellhus. Think of what’s at stake!”

“How,” Kellhus had replied, “can I think of anything else?”

Achamian reflects on a story a Yatwar Cultic priestess had told him about how they used two sacrificial animals, one to watch the other day so there is a nonrecognition of the sacrifice. Otherwise, it’s just pointless slaughter. They even had calculated the value “One lamb for ten bulls.” Achamian understands now what she meant. Achamian is now overwhelmed by his dilemma Which is why he is drinking.

Out of desperation, Achamian begins teaching Kellhus algebra, calculus, and logic, rational disciplines to “impose clarity” on his soul. Of course, Kellhus masters it all, even explaining that the famed philosopher Ajencis based his work on a “more basic logic, one which used relations between entire sentences rather than the subjects and predicates. Two thousand years of comprehension and insight overturned by the strokes of a stick across the dust.” Achamian demands to know how. “This is simply what I see,” Kellhus answers with a shrug.

He’s here, Achamian had thought absurdly, but he doesn’t stand beside me… If all men saw from where they stood, then Kellhus stood somewhere else—that much was undeniable. But did he stand beyond the pale of Drusas Achamian’s judgment?

Ah ,the question. More drink was required.

Achamian pulls out his satchel and his map he made of all the players in the game, looking at the names and how they were connected. Only Anasûrimbor Kellhus remained alone, isolated. “Like arithmetic or logic it all came down to relations.” Achamian had inked relations between the Consult ant the Emperor, between Maithanet and Inrau. On and on. But he has no idea where Kellhus fit.

Achamian suddenly cackled, resisted the urge to throw the parchment into the fire. Smoke. Wasn’t that what relations were in truth? Not ink, but smoke. Hard to see and impossible to grasp. And wasn’t that the problem? The problem with everything?

He decides against it, knowing he’s too drunk to make the decision, and instead decides to go smoke hashish. “Why not? The world was about to end.”

Achamian searches for the camp followers as he searches the camp. He thought he would trust Anagkë, Goddess of Fate, since she is known as the Whore. But she led him astray. After jocking about being well-endowed, Achamian gets directions to the camp followers. He moves through rutting couples, looking for something to distract him. Achamian notices how young men of the Men of the Tusk are, as they vomit from too much drink. He sees girls as young as ten selling their bodies and boys smeared in cosmetics. There are also craftsmen selling their goods, smithies repairing equipment, and cultic priests. There were also beggars

He finds a prostitute in the shadows but when passing torch light shows ulcerated lips, he drops a copper coin and flees. He then finds a group of prostitutes dancing around a flame together, trying to attract clients but staying together for mutual protection. He notices a Norsirai girl that attracts his attention He ignores the others and chooses her. She leads him to her blanket and he’s eager. They haggle over the price.

In this particular language, the man was forced to deride his own prowess in order to strike a fair bargain. If he was poor, he complained of being old, infirm, and so on. Arrogant men, Esmenet had told him once, usually fared poorly in these negotiations—which, of course, was the point. Harlots hated nothing more than men who arrived already believing the flattering lies they would tell. Esmi called them the simustarapari, or “those-who-spit-twice.”

They settle on a price, two silver talents, and she’s triumphant over the high price. Achamian finds her, despite her lush figure, girlish and guileless. Her youth excites him. He half-expects her mother to burst in an berate him. Then he wonders if her girlishness is an act. He realizes the front of her tent is open, but she doesn’t care if they are watched. He’s just about to take her when he spots Esmenet outside.

Achamian chases after Esmenet, crying her name. He sees her with a Thunyeri warrior and doesn’t understand why she ignores him. He debates using sorcery to stop her, but feels Chorae in the surrounding crowd. The Thunyeri takes her down an alley and he suddenly wonders how she could be here. He thinks its a trap.

If the Consult could fashion a Skeaös, couldn’t they fashion an Esmenet as well? If they knew about Inrau, then they almost certainly knew about her… What better way to gull a heartsick Schoolman than to…

A skin-spy? Do I chase a skin-spy?

In his soul’s eye, he saw Geshruuni’s corpse pulled from the River Sayut. Murdered. Desecrated.

Sweet Sejenus, they took his face. Could the same have happened…

In a panic, he rushes after and reaches them. It turns out not to be Esmenet, just someone who looks familiar. The Thunyeri isn’t happy, thinking Achamian is trying to take his whore, and beats Achamian. He is thrown to the ground, convulsing, sobbing, crying out Esmenet’s name.

Then he felt the touch. Heard the voice.

“Still fetching sticks, I see… Tired old dog.”

The real Esmenet has found him. She helps him walk. He’s stunned that’s her. Then he notices the bruise on her face. She’s been punched, too, though she jokes that is nothing compared to Achamian’s face. He weeps when he really realizes, through his daze, that t is her and they cry together.

Afterward, they head into her tent. He is still stunned, asking why she left Sumna. She was afraid. They kiss and then have sex. During it, Achamian says “Never again.” He promises that nothing, not even his school, will take her away from him.

For a time, they seemed one being, dancing about the same delirious burn, swaying from the same breathless centre. For a time, they felt no fear.

They enjoy each other for a while, “apologies offered for things already forgiven.” Finally, Achamian asks after her belongings. She doesn’t have much. He wants her to stay with him and she agrees. They leave, strolling like lovers. As they walk, her realizes something must have driven her from Sumna to the Holy War and then something had kept her from seeking him out. But he doesn’t want to ask these questions, so drunk on meeting her again. He doesn’t want to lose that. Achamian finds himself studying Esmenet as they watch a performance. She seems so new to him, noticing new details about her appearance

I must always see her like this. As the stranger I love…

As time passes, Esmenet notices that Achamian has a burden. He always used to pretend to be alright, even when Inrau died. But not now. He begins explaining about the Mandate Schoolman suffer and she realizes that he’s learned something more. She wants to know, but Achamian can’t. Then she asks if he wants to know why she left. He doesn’t. She gets angry and talks about her custom, the men she’s been with, acting different. Achamian grows angry with her for throwing the custom in her face, all the men she’s bedded. He wants to ask the question why she left Sumna. Why she hid from him. Before he can, she heads to a group of harlots.

The harlots are her friends. She introduces Achamian and they know him. One harlot, Yasellas, is very bawdy and makes jokes about her work which brings laughter from the other prostitute which reminds Achamian of men laughing at dirty jokes. Esmenet goes to her tent for her belongings. In her tent, he asks her why she told him that.

“Because I had to know,” she replied, looking down at her hands.

“Know what?” What makes my hands shake? What makes my eyes dart in terror?”

Her shoulders hitched in the gloom; Achamian realized she was sobbing.

“You pretended that I wasn’t there,” she whispered.

That confuses Achamian. She explains about the last night at Momemn, at the end of the last book, when Achamian walked by her in a daze. How happy she was to see him and then how he ignored her. He’s even more confused. She grows angry, demanding why he ignored her. “Was I too polluted, too defiled? Too much a filthy whore?” He tries to speak to her, but she’s on an angry tirade. He grows angry and she flinches, like she expects him to hit her. That cuts through his anger as she starts crying. They’re both beaten, both outcasts.

“That night you’re talking about… Sweet Sejenus, Esmi, if I didn’t see you, it wasn’t because I was ashamed of you! How could I be? How could anyone—let alone a sorcerer!—be ashamed of a woman such as you?”

He explains that he found the Consult that night. He talks about remembering nothing of his walk back. He told her everything except Kellhus. She asks him questions, like she always did, pressed against him. She realizes he’s been avoiding talking to the Mandate and he tries to change the subject. But she wont’ let him. He then talks about how he met an Anasûrimbor Esmenet knows the significance of the name because he told her about the prophecy She grows scared.

She feared, Achamian realized, because she believed… He gasped, blinked hot tears. Tears of joy.

She really believes… All along she’s believed!

“No, Akka!” Esmenet cried, clutching his chest. “This can’t be happening!”

How could life be so perverse? That a Mandate Schoolman could celebrate the world’s end.

He explains his reasons for suspecting Kellhus as the harbinger. She begs that Achamian surrender Kellhus to the mandate. He doesn’t want them to destroy Kellhus. She still urges him with no hesitation “only cold eyes and remorseless judgment. For women, it seemed, the scales of threat and love brooked no counterweights.” She has made her decision. One life is worth it. He tries to explain how Kellhus is one man worth risking the Apocalypse to save. But he has trouble explaining it the first time and tries a different analogy.

“There’s many… many grounds between men. Some are mutual, and some are not. When you and I speak of the Consult, for instance, you stand upon my ground, just as I stand upon your ground when you discuss your… your life. But with Kellhus, it makes no difference what you discuss or where you stand; somehow the ground beneath your feet belongs to him. I’m always his guest—always! Even when I teach him, Esmi!”

She’s shocked that he teaches Kellhus, which makes Achamian feel like a betrayer, and he quickly assures her that he’s not teaching her sorcery, which he is grateful for. He explains that the man’s intelligence would make him into something powerful. Stronger even than Seswatha. Esmenet likes that even less and urges him to tell the Mandate. Esmenet realizes it is guilt over Inrau’s death is the reason Achamian protects him. Because Achamian thinks he killed Inrau.

“And what if I do? Does that mean I should relent a second time? Let those fools in Atyersus doom another man that I—”

“No, Achamian. It means you’re not doing this—any of this!—to save this Anasûrimbor Kellhus. You’re doing it to punish yourself.

He stared, dumbstruck. Was that what she thought?

“You say this,” Achamian breathed, “because you know me so well…” He reached out, traced the pale edge of her breast with a finger. “And Kellhus so little.”

“No man is that remarkable… I’m a whore, remember?”

“We’ll see,” he said, tugging her down. They kissed, long and deep.

We,” she repeated, laughing as though both hurt and astounded “It really is ‘we’ now, isn’t it?”

He tells her he feels hollow without her. “Isn’t that ‘we’” She agrees, recognizing the feeling. They have sex again, but Esmenet doesn’t act like the harlot “hoping to abbreviate her labor, but with the clumsy selfishness of a lover seeking surcease—a lover or a wife.” Achamian realizes that this is as much as any whore can give.

A skin-spy listens to them wearing a harlot’s face. It reflects on how it is immune to the needs of the flesh. They smell like animals to the skin-spy. But it understood their desire, because it had similar ones, only for killing, as the architects intends Those hungers give it direction.

There was ecstasy in a face. Rapture in deceit. Climax in the kill…

And certainty in the dark.

My Thoughts

The most careful laid plans can be undone by nature. The first test of the Holy War comes at the hands of an earthquake. Bakker is always good about showing random chance’s effect on events. This entire passage is the times when Bakker shifts gears from his limited 3rd Person POV to a omniscient narrators voice, sketching out historical events without the narrative colored by any one character’s thoughts.

Shibboleth is a new word for me. It means, according to the New Oxford American Dictionary, “a custom, principle, or belief distinguishing a particular class or group of people, esp. a long-standing one regarded as outmoded or no longer important.” It sounds like a name out of Lovecraft for some dark, primordial entity lurking in the cosmos.

Again, Kellhus earns more respect of the Great Names by being listened to and further his agenda of positioning himself as a prophet, interpreting the will of God for them even if he makes no overt claim of prophethood.

Eleäzaras is stressed. He has wagered his entire school and now has the slow march towards Shimeh to dwell on the “what if” questions. Which are some of the most insidious questions our minds can ask of us, leaching in, driving us wild. Has he destroyed his school for vengeance?

And just when he’s relaxing, the mercenary Skaleteas arrives wanting to speak with him. Isn’t that just the worse, you kick back, relax after a long day and someone wants to talk to you and just want to relax with your body slave or the TV. The TV is probably more relatable.

A White-Sash Peralogue of the Mysunsai Order is about all we ever learn about this school in the books beyond that their mercenaries. Who knows what the title signifies. Is that a high ranking? Probably from how Skaleteas says it.

Skaleteas took the same interpretation of the skin spy as the Emperor. The Cishaurim He’s a very sniveling individual, always groveling and haggling, even wanting to know why Eleäzaras knew Achamian’s name and what interest the Scarlet Spier could have with the Mandate. And then, just when Eleäzaras is confident he can capture and make the man disappear, Skaleteas almost kills Eleäzaras Almost.

We get our first look at a proper sorcerous duel between two Angogic Schoolmen. Using Wards to hide behind, attacking with fiery birds and lightning bolts. Eleäzaras sees overcoming Skaleteas as a riddle. He has to find the right answer to solve him and kill him. Which he does.

Bakker reintroduces a number of plots with the Eleäzaras section, including how strong the Mandate are. Eleäzaras has no issue taking a Mysunsai sorcerer captured, even one who works for the Imperial Palace, but capturing Achamian, a field agent, is something that makes his spy master object to and demand answers. It is a dangerous risk.

Why does Eleäzaras want Achamian so badly? Last book, he believed the Mandate were mutilating people for dark reasons. A member of the Javreh, the bodyguard of the Scarlet Spire, was found with his face cut off after meeting with Achamian (in actuality, a skin spy killed him and planned on replacing the man but then Achamian left the city). Now with the fact that Achamian spoke with the spy in a foreign tongue and tried to keep it alive (to be interrogated, but Eleäzaras doesn’t know that) he sees Achamian as holding answers about a spy that can’t be seen. If it is a Cishaurim spy, what does that mean for his school.

Humans always have a preference for the semblance of control, to pretend like our lives aren’t controlled by random chance. We would prefer to stick our fingers in the dike and pretend no problem caused it to leak in the first place.

Notice how Achamian thinks of Kellhus and Inrau a lot. This is not accidental. Kellhus has figured out that Achamian responds to his students and mimics what Achamian most enjoys about his students, about Inrau in particular, his favorite. Then Kellhus exploits it to keep Achamian from telling the Mandate about him. Being captured by the Mandate would ruin all of Kellhus’s plans.

One life sacrificed for the world or the world sacrificed for one life. That is a philosophical question. The greater good could be one answer, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. But that’s a dangerous philosophy. Much evil can be done in the name of that philosophy Of course, if the world will end, wouldn’t you have to sacrifice anything to save it, including Kellhus. But Achamian is a skeptic. He always has doubts. And that holds him back.

The Inrithi face is a mix of their old paganism worshiping the Hundred Gods, and then Inrithi coming along and saying the Hundred were all aspects of a single God. So you have two castes of priests, the cultic priests, like the Yatwarian priestess, who follow the old ways, and then an shrial priest who follows the teachings of Inri Sejenus, cobbling together the old with the new. Also, Yatwar’s first mention. Her followers play a big role in the second series.

Poor Achamian. How can you condemn a man who so thoroughly shines above you? Who might stand beyond mere mortals. Achamian is seeing all that Kellhus can give humanity, insights that are beyond even Ajencis, the greatest philosopher, this worlds Socrates or Plato. Works that the foundations of modern thought are built upon. Poor Achamian. Can’t blame the man for drinking with such impossible decisions before him.

Fate is a Whore in Bakker’s world. She’s capricious, promiscuous you one thing but gives you another. You can never trust her to lead you right. But it is also an entity you try to bargain with. You do good acts hoping something positive will come to you. Like the concept of Karma. It’s no coincidence in this chapter we have actual whores, a mercenary called a whore, and Fate. You bargain with all three.

Camp followers might seem anachronistic to modern armies, but in fact, they’re just in uniform. The support personal, mechanics, logistic officers, chaplains, the supply driers, supporting the actual men who fight on the front lines. But ancient armies also marched with families, merchants, and, of course, the prostitutes. Any soldier’s wife who loses her husband may very well find herself turning to that option to feed her and her children.

Interesting that Achamian chooses a Norsirai girl over the other Ketyai prostitutes Serwë is Norsirai and Kellhus definitely has an attraction for her.

Standard haggling behavior, belittle yourself, your wares, your ability to pay to drive down the price. Love how arrogant men do badly in negotiating with prostitutes

The skin-spies are so insidious. They have to make you paranoid over everything if you let them. Anyone could be a skin-spy but yourself. It could make a same man crippled by paranoia if he dwelt on it.

As happy as I am for Achamian and Esmenet to find each other, to get the next few months of happiness together, it still irks me at how fast they did get back together. Bakker has them almost together at the end of the last book but chose to have Achamian be in such a daze from the revelation he didn’t even see her and to have Esmenet so shaken by that she doesn’t even try to get his attention. And then, in chapter 3, they’re back with no real obstacle. Achamian just…stumbles on her by chance. Bakker is usually better about how his characters move about, maybe he had plans that didn’t work out and he had to changes things.

Achamian just wants one night to enjoy his reunion with Esmenet before reality comes knocking and he has to ask her the questions dancing in his mind. No one wants the good times to end before they have to.

Esmenet’s tirade about her custom is interesting on how the Ketyai (brown-skinned) men like the Norsirai (white-skinned) girls. While the Norsirai like the Ketyai girls. People like what’s different, what’s exotic.

The whole discussion between Esmenet and Achamian, their anger, their crying, their opening up and telling each other what has happened is so well written. I love their scenes. They make a great couple. She believes him. She always has. And he finally has found that person he can share his burdens with.

It is easy for Esmenet to condemn Kellhus because she hasn’t met him yet. She didn’t get to know him before having to make the decision.

We see Esmenet’s intelligence when she realizes Inrau is the reason he protects Kellhus. Like Kellhus, Esmenet sees the vulnerability he has for his dead student and the guilt that his death is the Mandate’s, is Achamian’s, fault.

Esmenet giving herself to Achamian, taking her pleasure from him instead of giving up her body for his pleasure, is a loving act. Achamian is right. That’s not how she acts with her clients. How she’s ever really acted with him. Right there, she’s changed. She’s accepted he won’t leave her like she had always feared before, why she always took her custom when he was with her.

And then the skin-spy watching him. Probably the same skin-spy that killed Geshruuni in book one and who Achamian spotted following him in the Angora later on in the same book. Give some insight into what the Consult likes in their servant. They are aroused by fear and death, their appetites for lust channeled into something even darker by “the architects.”

Bakker plants seeds for the future plots of this chapter here. Achamian is in a lot of danger and doesn’t even know it. And Esmenet just falls back into the story. She’s what Achamian needs. He’s been so lost since the end of Book 1. Bakker does a good job on having the Scarlet Spire interpret events in a way that makes sense for their world view while being so wrong. And, of course, raise the stakes around Achamian.

Click here to continue onto Chapter 4!

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmailby feather
Facebooktwitterrssby feather

Reread of Storm Front: Part 6

Reread of The Dresden Files

Book 1: Storm Front

by Jim Butcher

Part 6

Welcome to Part 6 of my reread. Click here if you missed the Part 5!

Chapter 16

I had lost Murphy’s trust. It didn’t matter that I had done what I had to protect both her and myself. Noble intentions meant nothing. It was the results that counted. And the results of my actions had been telling a bald-faced lie to one of the only people I could come close to calling a friend. And I wasn’t sure that, even if I found the person or persons responsible, even if I worked out how to bring them down, even if I did Murphy’s job for her, that what had happened between us could ever be smoothed over.

These are the thoughts that fill Harry’s mind as he walks down to a gas station to call for a cab. A man walking by Harry suddenly punches him in the stomach multiple times and throws Harry to the ground. Stunned, it takes Harry a moment to realize the attacker is cutting his hair off with scissors.

Harry panics and leaps at his attacker, wrenching the attackers knee. Harry recognizes the man as one of Marcone’s goons. Gimpy, as Harry now thinks of his assailant, fights off Harry and gets away despite Harry’s desperate struggle to get his hair back. Gimpy escapes in a car. Harry is scared. Marcone could do magic against Harry with his hair, the same way Shadowman could kill Jennifer, Tommy, and Linda.

Harry is not sure how Marcone now fits into the picture. Whether he’s working with Shadowman, has his own wizard, or Gimpy is playing both sides, doesn’t matter. Harry’s angry and he’s going to get his hair back and kick some ass. Harry ponders how he’s going to find his hair when he realizes he has some of Gimpy’s blood under his fingernails. He can use the link between Gimpy and his blood and perform a tracking spell. The spell will let harry track Gimpy by “scent.”

I started laughing again. I had the son of a bitch. I could follow him back to Marcone, or whoever he was working for, but I had to do it now. I hadn’t had enough blood to make it last long.

Hey, buddy!” The cabby leaned out the window and glared at me, the engine running at an idle, the end of his cheroot glowing orange.

I stared at him for a second. “What?” He scowled. “What, are you deaf? Did someone call for a cab?”

I grinned at him, still angry, still a little light-headed, still eager to go kick Gimpy and the Shadowman’s teeth in. “I did.”

Why do I get all the nuts?” he said. “Get in.”

Harry tells the cab to take him to apartment so he can pick up some stuff, and Harry will tell let the cabbie know the second stop “when we get there.”

My Thoughts

The panic Harry has when his hair gets caught really helps to reinforce how dangerous in Harry’s world it is to let pieces of you fall into your enemies hand. Harry fights desperately with Gimpy, grappling with the guy even after getting punched, hard, three times in the stomach.

Using body parts in spells is found in many real world occult practices, another way Butcher weaves the occult and mythology into the world making his magic seem both real and fantastical all at the same time.

Harry’s tracking spell is interesting. It required putting the blood and his own nose hairs in a circle drawn in chalk on the sidewalk. Followed by some pseudo-Latin that roughly means “follow your testimony” according to the Dresden File Wiki.

Chapter 17

After collecting Harry’s equipment (two bracelets, a ring, blasting rod, and staff), the tracking spell leads Harry to the Varsity, a night club owned by Marcone in the suburbs. Harry scouts the location and sees Marcone with Hendricks, Gimpy, and Spike. Harry thinks about his entrance, pondering using illusions or other subtle magics.

I shook my head, irritated. I didn’t have time to bother with subtlety.

Power into the talismans, then. Power into the ring. I reached for the power in both the staff and rod, cool strength of wood and seething anger of fire, and stepped up to the front door of the Varsity.

Then I blew it off its hinges.

I blew it out, rather than in. Pieces flew toward me and bounced off the shield of air I held in front of me, while others rained back behind me, into the parking lot. It wouldn’t do to injure a bunch of innocent diners on the other side. You only get one chance to make a first impression.

Harry steps through the door, slags the jukebox with a fireball from his blasting rod, and strides arrogantly up to Marcone, jeering “Little pig, little pig, let me in.” Marcone is not amused and tells everyone the Varsity is closing earl. After the diners flee, Harry demands his hair back. Marcone is clearly confused by Harry statement. Harry explains how Gimpy jumped him.

Marcone turns to Gimpy, who begins to sweat, and demands to know what is going on. Gimpy protests his innocent. Marcone pushes Gimpy, who panics and whips out a gun. Harry channeled power through his bracelet, forming a shield before him and deflects the bullets. At the same time, Hendricks pushes Marcone to safety and produce his own gun. He kills Gimpy.

Marcone is disappointed that Hendricks killed him because he wanted answers. Harry and Marcone agree that they face a common enemy. Harry searches Gimpy and doesn’t find his hair. Harry asks Marcone for what he knows about their enemy. Marcone points out that Harry just challenged him publicly and he cannot let that slide. So, Marcone will either let Harry be killed or, if Harry wins, put out that word that Harry was working for Marcone.

Marcone does reveal that they never have learned anything about the enemy. Everyone they interrogated spoke only of shadows. Marcone then warns Harry that it’s best if their paths don’t cross again. Harry agrees.

I turned and trudged out of the place, into the night and the cold and the misty rain. I still felt sick, could still see Gimpy Lawrence’s eyes as he died. I could still hear Linda Randall’s husky laughter in my head. I still regretted lying to Murphy, and I still had no intentions of telling her any more than I already had. I still didn’t know who was trying to kill me. I still had no defense to present to the White Council.

Let’s face it, Harry,” I told myself. “You’re still screwed.”

My Thoughts

This is the first time we can see what Harry is capable of. It’s quite an impressive entrance. I can see why Harry didn’t want to unleash his magic in his apartment without his shield bracelet on. Butcher’s always good on the details, such as the collateral damage that the shrapnel blowing a door in could produce.

Harry is always snarky. But Marcone really seems to bring out a level of immaturity in Harry. The whole big bad wolf thing is a little over the top as well as childish and this level of discourse will only continue between them. Marcone, of course, is too classy a guy to ever sink to such a level.

Marcone continues to be ruthlessly practical. The whole exchange with Hendricks. He’s disappointed that Hendricks killed him but understands why. Over Gimpy’s corpse, he asks the dead man why he didn’t just come to Marcone. Marcone would gladly double what his enemy was paying Gimpy.

Well, another dead end for Harry. Not even Marcone knows who Shadowman is. And now, all Shadowman needs is another spring storm and bye-bye Harry.

Chapter 18

Whenever Harry is in turmoil, he walks. And that’s what he does after leaving the Varsity. He thinks about his father, a stage magician. His dad was working and wasn’t there when Harry’s mother died giving birth to him. He named Harry after three magicians and then took him with on the road. Harry remembers his dad as kind and generous, but sad, missing Harry’s mother. Harry’s dad always promised that Harry could be his assistant when he was older, but his dad died of an aneurysm before that happened. Harry found the body, a smile on his face.

Harry realizes he has walked to Linda Randall’s apartment and without thinking, Harry enters the apartment, breaking the police tape. Harry, feeling depressed and guilty, curls up on the floor next Linda’s bed and falls asleep. Harry wakes up the next morning, feeling disgusted with himself.

What the hell are you doing, Harry?” I demanded, out loud.

Lying down to die,” I told myself, petulantly.

Like hell,” my wiser part said. “Get off the floor and get to work.”

Don’t wanna. Tired. Go away.”

You’re not too tired to talk to yourself. So you’re not too tired to bail your ass out of the alligators, either. Open your eyes,” I told myself, firmly.

Harry looks around the room, lingering on a photo of Linda smiling at her graduation with her parents. Harry then spots a red film canister just like the one he found at Victor Sellers lake house. Elated, Harry snatches the canister. Suddenly there was a link between Monica’s missing husband and the murders. Re-energized, Harry gets up and freezes, hearing someone turning a key in the apartment door.

My Thoughts

Harry’s had a stressful day and knowing that your death from to different sources, Shadowman and the White Council, would make anyone depressed. Worse, Harry feels guilty for not protecting Linda (a reoccurring issue he deals with). He didn’t know how Shadowman was killing people until it was too late. He has no reason to feel guilty, but emotions are never so simple are the?

And Harry, its not good to talk back and forth to yourself like that. Maybe you should take a vacation if you survive the next few days.

So, now Harry’s two cases have crossed (shocking!). The plot thickens and Harry finally has a clue he grasp. We know from Monica that Victor was getting into magic, teaching himself, and we also know that Shadowman, while figuring out how to harness a storm, has had no formal training. Two plus two just might equal four.

Click here to continue on to Part 7.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmailby feather
Facebooktwitterrssby feather

Review: Blood of the Innocent

Blood of the Innocent (Blood Scroll Trilogy 2)

by Poppy Reid

Reviewed by JMD Reid

b01fiaaja2-01-lzzzzzzzVillid the Tyran is on a quest to bring all the people of Theldiniya together to face the threat of the Drakma and the Red Lands. Separated from his pregnant lover, Aya the Elf, he hopes to complete his mission to the Vryna and the Dwarves, to recruit their people for the cause.

But the Vryna and the Dwarves have their own problems. Villid will have to prove himself in the arena. With the aid of Pearla and Stenn, a Vryna and Dwarf, he will have to show the warring races who their true enemy is.

While Villid is away, his lover is in danger. She carries a child of two different bloods, a child that could fulfill a dark prophecy. And the Drakma knows it. Villid will have to face tough decisions to protect Theldiniya and the elf he loves.

Blood of the Innocent is a great follow up to Blood of the Fallen. Reid raises the stakes in this story, building on the plot with plenty of new twists to reveal. New characters are introduced and the story rushes forward, keeping you turning the page. If you’re a fan of Fantasy, the Blood Scroll series is a great adventure. The ending kept me on the edge of my seat and I am eagerly awaiting the final book to read how this all ends.

You can by Blood of the Innocent from Amazon!

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmailby feather
Facebooktwitterrssby feather

Reread of The Warrior Prophet: Chapter Two

Reread of Prince of Nothing Trilogy

Book 2: The Warrior Prophet

by R. Scott Bakker

Part 1
The First March
Chapter 2
Anserca

Welcome to Chapter Two of my reread. Click here if you missed Chapter One!

Duty measures the distance between the animal and the divine.

EKYANNUS 1, 44 EPISTLES

The days and weeks before battle are a strange thing. All the contingents, the Conriyans, the Galeoth, the Nansur, the Thunyeri, the Tydonni, the Ainoni, and the Scarlet Spires, marched to the fortress of Asgilioch, to the Southron Gates and the heathen frontier. And though many bent their thoughts to Skauras, the heathen Sapatishah who would contest us, he was still woven of the same cloth as a thousand other abstract concerns. One could still confuse war with everyday living…

DRUSAS ACHAMIAN, COMPENDIUM OF THE FIRST HOLY WAR

My Thoughts

Duty is putting something ahead of you own desires. Whether it is the duty to go to your job, the duty to stay faithful to a spouse, the duty to die for your country, you are putting something ahead of yourself. Animals don’t do this. But the divine does. And then in this chapter we have Kellhus equating the Holy War to an animal offering, a sacrifice to the divine to see if their duty is righteous or not, if they are saved or damned.

Again, we have Achamian writing about these events after the fact. They serve the purpose of foreshadowing future events as well as providing historical background for events. This one is a comment on humans adaptability to make a life in all most any circumstance, no matter how extreme or out of the ordinary. We will find ways to have routine, to make it familiar, to trick ourselves into some amount of safety. Even in prison, you see this. At the same time, Bakker’s reminding of us of the players of the war, the nations on the Inrithi side and the general who will be contesting them at the end of the first march.

Late Spring 4111 Year-of-the-Tusk, the province of Anserca

The Conriyan host marches south and after a few days, Achamian realizes the host had settled into a pattern, people camping with the same people. Achamian makes camp with Xinemus, his lieutenants—Iryssas, Dinchases, and Zenkappa—Kellhus, Serwë, and Cnaiür Proyas makes the occasional visit, but he usually summons Xinemus, Kellhus, and Cnaiür to for council. One night, during a holy day, Achamian finds himself alone in the camp with Cnaiür. Achamian has many questions for Cnaiür about Kellhus, about his relationship with Serwë (people have noticed how she dotes on Kellhus but goes to bed with Cnaiür), and on the disposition of the Sranc clans who border the Utemot territory, but he’s unnerved by the barbarian and they just ignore each other until Achamian tries to broach the silence with a “I guess we’re the heathens, eh, Scylvendi?”

An uncomfortable silence followed while Cnaiür continued gnawing at the bone he held. Achamian sipped his wine, thought of excuses he might use to withdraw to his tent. What did one say to a Sclyvendi?

“So you teach him,” Cnaiür suddenly said, spitting gristle into the fire. His eyes glittered from the shadow of his heavy brow, studying the flame.

“Yes,” Achamian replied.

“Has he told you why?”

Achamian shrugged. “He seeks knowledge of the Three Seas… Why do you ask?”

Instead of answering, the Sclyvendi marches off into the darkness, leaving Achamian baffled Achamian means to ask Kellhus, but forgets by the time the man returns. Achamian seeks his bed. Like most nights, he is plagued by doubts and recrimination because of Kellhus. He worries about Esmenet and what will happen to the Holy War when it faces Fanim. The nightmares grow worse and he grows unable to sleep. He would pray to the gods who damned them both to keep Esmenet safe and his thoughts turn to Kellhus.

Achamian realizes he can talk to Xinemus about his problem, seek his friend’s advice. But he is scared. He had lied to Xinemus about what had happened in the Emperor’s dungeon, unable to tell the truth in the stunned aftermath.

At the time, the lies simply… happened. The events of that night and the revelation that had followed had been too immediate and far too catastrophic in their implication. Even now, two weeks later, Achamian felt overmatched by their dread significance. Back then, he could only flounder. Stories, on the other hand, were something he could make sense of, something he could speak.

How can Achamian explain to his friend that he lied, that he betrayed his trust. As he thinks, he gazes at his companions and wonders if they realize the end is coming. He has to share his burden, and if can’t to the Mandate, then he had to someone else. “If only Esmi had come with… No. that way lay more pain.” So Achamian goes to Xinemus, telling his friend they need to talk. And though Kellhus is distracted, Achamian has the impression the man is watching. He brings up the night of the palace, struggling to speak. But just as Achamian starts to speak, Iryssas interrupts, wanting Xinemus to hear Kellhus’s words.

“It’s just a parable,” the Prince of Atrithau said. “Something I learned while among the Scylvendi… It goes like this: A slender young bull and his harem of cows are shocked to discover that their owner has purchased another bull, far deeper of chest, far thicker of horn, and far more violent of temper. Even still, when the owner’s sons drive the mighty newcomer to pasture, the young bull lowers his horns, begins snorting and stamping. ‘No!’ his cows cry. ‘Please, don’t risk your life for us!’ ‘Risk my life?’ the young bull exclaims. ‘I’m just making sure he knows I’m a bull!’”

Everyone laughs after a moment, then Iryssas gives his interpretation that a man’s dignity and honor are worth more than anything “even our wives!” Xinemus dismisses it as a joke, but Cnaiür interrupts, saying, “It is a parable of courage.” Everyone is silent as he explains it is a way to tell youths that “gestures are meaningless, that only death is real.” Achamian asks Kellhus’s interpretation Kellhus speak, his voice hushing those around him as he says that courage, honor, love are “problems, not absolutes. Questions.” Iryssas disagrees, demanding to know what the solutions are. “Cowardice and depravity?”

“No,” Kellhus replied. “Cowardice and depravity are problems as well. As for solutions? You, Iryssas—you’re a solution. In fact, we’re all solutions. Every life lived sketches a different answer, a different way…”

“So are all solutions equal?” Achamian blurted. The bitterness of his tone startled him.

“A philosopher’s question,” Kellhus replied, and his smile swept away all awkwardness “No. Of course not. Some lives are better lived than others—there can be no doubt. Why do you think we sing the lays we do? Why do you think we revere our scripture? Or ponder the life of the Latter Prophet?”

Examples, Achamian realized Examples of lives that enlightened, that solved… He knew this but couldn’t bring himself to say it. He was, after all, a sorcerer, an example of a life that solved nothing. Without a word, he rolled to his feet and strode into the darkness, not caring what the others thoughts. Suddenly, he needed darkness, solitude…

Shelter from Kellhus.

As Achamian leaves, he realizes he didn’t speak to Xinemus. He decides that’s for the best with all that’s going on. “Xinemus would just think him mad.” An angry Serwë confronts Achamian. He wonders if she’s jealous of the time Kellhus spends with Achamian.

“You needn’t fear,” she said.

Achamian swallowed at the sour taste in his mouth. Earlier, Xinemus had passed perrapta around instead of wine—wretched drink.

“Fear what?”

“Loving him.”

Achamian’s heart beats faster. He asks if Serwë dislikes him. As he waits for her answer, he longs for her, desires her beauty. “Only because you refuse to see,” is her answer. Then she flees, leaving Achamian wondering what he doesn’t see as he cries.

Later, Achamian is alone at the fire weeping when Kellhus approaches. He asks what’s wrong. “Is it the Dreams.” Achamian agrees but Kellhus sees it is something more, pressing Achamian on his sleepless nights. Achamian answers “I see his blood in your face, and it fills me with both hope and horror.” Kellhus appears disturbed that Achamian is troubled about him. Achamian explains about the dream of the Celmomas Prophecy and its importance to the Mandate. Achamian grows emotional, speaking in the first person, momentarily forgetting that he isn’t Seswatha.

“You don’t understand! J-just listen… He, Celmomas, spoke to me—to Seswatha—before he died. He spoke to all of us—” Achamian shook his head, cackled, pulled fingers through his beard. “In fact he keeps speaking, night after fucking night, dying time and again—and always for the first time! And-and he says…”

Achamian looked up, suddenly so unashamed of his tears. If he couldn’t bare his soul before this man—so like Ajencis, so like Inrau!—then who?

“He says that an Anasûrimbor—an Anasûrimbor, Kellhus!—will return at the end of the world.”

Kellhus’s expression, normally so blessedly devoid of conflict, darkened. “What are you saying, Akka?”

Achamian says he is the harbinger. That he means the world will end. The Second Apocalypse Kellhus points out the absurdity of it. Kellhus has existed since he was born, that “an Anasûrimbor has always been ‘here.’” Achamian realizes it is just a coincidence. Achamian yearns to hug Kellhus as he grapples with this idea. But then he talks about discovering the Consult and what happened, about how Skeaös was the skin spy.

“But how does that make me the Harbinger?”

Because it means the Consult has mastered the Old Science, Bashrags, Dragons, all the abominations of the Inchoroi, are artifacts of the Tekne, the Old Science, created long, long ago, when the Nonmen still ruled Eärwa It was thought destroyed when the Inchoroi were annihilated by Cû‘jara-Cinmoi—before the Tusk was even written, Kellhus! But these, these skin-spies are new. New artifacts of the Old Science. And if the Consult has rediscovered the Old Science, there’s a chance they know how to resurrect Mog-Pharau…”

And that name stole his breath, winded him like a blow to the chest.

“The No-God,” Kellhus said.

Achamian nodded, swallowing as though his throat were sore. “Yes, the No-God…”

“And now that an Anasûrimbor has returned…”

“That chance has become a near certainty.”

After a studious pause, Kellhus asks what Achamian will do. Achamian says his mission, which is to spy on the Holy War. But he has to decide whether or not to tell the Mandate about Achamian, revealing that he betrays not only them but the world for doing so. Kellhus asks why he hasn’t told them.

Achamian took a deep breath. “Because when I do, they’ll come for you, Kellhus.”

“Perhaps they should.”

“You don’t know my brothers.”

Cnaiür crouches over a sleeping Serwë, studying her as he ponders the events that led him here to advising the Holy War as it marched on Shimeh, home of the Cishaurim. “Anasûrimbor Moënghus was Cishaurim.” Cnaiür is amazed that the “deranged scale of its ambition” Kellhus’s plan is working. Cnaiür understands that this is the only way to get his revenge. He ponders the extant of Moënghus’s power, fearing it includes the Holy War and Kellhus.

Send them a son. What better way could a Dûnyain overthrow his enemies.

Already, the nobles fall silent out of respect to Kellhus, deferring to him, “not the way men acceded rank or station, but the way men yield to those who possess something they need.” Kellhus had convinced them he wasn’t ordinary, but special, using their beliefs and preying upon them. Cnaiür reflects on Kellhus using those beliefs to make himself appear special. When Ingiaban, Palatine of Kethantei, claims that “God favors the righteous” as proof they’ll win. Kellhus interrupts, asking if Ingiaban is righteous Ingiaban says they are because they raise arms against the heathens.

[Kellhus]: “So we raise arms against the heathen because we’re righteous?”

“And because they’re wicked.”

Kellhus smiled with stern compassion. “’He who’s righteous is he who’s found wanting in the ways of God…’ Isn’t this what Sejenus himself writes?”

“Yes. Of course.”

“And who finds men wanting in the ways of the God? Other men?”

The Palatine of Kethantei paled. “No,” he said. “Only the God and his Prophets.”

“So we’re not righteous, then?”

“Yes… I mean, no…” Baffled, Ingiaban looked to Kellhus, a horrible frankness revealed in his face. “I mean… I know longer know what I mean!”

Concessions. Always exacting concessions. Accumulating them.

Kellhus explains that man can only hope he is righteous and can never judge himself to be it. He explains that they are the sacrifice on the altar not the priest making it. “We’re the victim.” They won’t know if they’re righteousness until the end. Proyas finds great merit in it.

Cnaiür feels his own shame while watching Kellhus manipulate others, remembering how Moënghus manipulated Cnaiür as a child. Sometimes he wants to give them warning. But he fears having anything in common with these men.

Sometimes crimes seemed crimes, no matter how ludicrous the victim.

But only sometimes. For the most part Cnaiür merely watched with a numb kind of incredulity. He no longer heard Kellhus speak so much as observed him cut and carve, whittle and hew, as though the man had somehow shattered the glass of language and fashioned knives from the pieces. This word to anger to that word might open. This look to embarrass so that smile might reassure. This insight to remind so that truth might injure, heal, or astonish.

How easy it must have been for Moënghus One stripling lad. One chieftain’s wife.

Cnaiür remembers his mother’s execution for giving birth to Moënghus’s son and Cnaiür wonders why he let it happen. He comes to himself, still kneeling over Serwë, and finds him stabbing his knife into the dirt. He realizes he is feeling remorse for Proyas and the others. Which shocks him.

“So long as what comes before remains shrouded,” Kellhus had said on their trek across the Jiünati Steppe, “so long as men are already deceived, what does it matter?” And what did it matter, making fools of fools? What mattered was whether the man made a fool of him [Cnaiür]; this—this!—was the sharp edge upon which his every thought should bleed Did the Dûnyain speak true? Was he truly his father’s assassin?

I walk with the whirlwind.

He could never forget. He had only his hatred to preserve him.

And Serwë?

Kellhus enters and realizes Cnaiür overheard the conversation with Achamian. Cnaiür avoids a debate, getting dressed while Serwë comes awake. Kellhus brings up Cnaiür’s Chorae, asking if he still has it. Cnaiür says of course you know I have it. Kellhus asks how he would. “You know.” Cnaiür calls killing sorcerer’s “treacherous work.” And then horns sound outside.

Late Spring 4111 Year-of-the-Tusk, the province of Anserca

As Emperor Xerius steps from the bath, feeling like a god no, he is surprise to find his mother watching. He implies she’s there to stare at his penis. She, however, is there because she has a gift, a young, virgin slave girl, a Galeoth.

Gifts from Mother—they underscored the treachery of gifts from those who were not ones tributaries. Such gifts weren’t gifts at all, in fact. Such gifts always demanded exchange.

His Mother always knew which men or women would please him, and he can’t deny his joy at her gift. She asks about Skeaös, offended she wasn’t told about what happened. Xerius’s attention is split as he confirms it was the Cishaurim who made Skeaös. She is afraid they know of his plans, but he points out they already know of his plans to betray the Holy War, since he made them with the Fanim. She wants him to reconsider his pact with the Heathens. She points out that he’s been a snake in his bosom, hearing all his plans, which reminds Xerius that there could be others. He isn’t convinced, using what she taught him against her. She only grow angry, throwing out a tirade about using the Holy War to destroy the Cishaurim instead of sparing them.

“This isn’t like you, Mother. You were never one to cower before damnation. Is it because you grow old, hmm? Tell me, what’s it like to stand upon the precipice? To feel your womb wither, to watch the eyes of your lovers grow shy with hidden disgust…”

He’d struck from impulse and found vanity—the only way he knew to injure his mother.

But there was no bruise in her reply. “There comes a time, Xerius, when you care nothing for your spectators. The spectacles of beauty are like baubles of ceremony—for the young, the stupid. The act, Xerius. The act makes mere ornaments of all things. You’ll see.”

He tries to wounder her again, but she doesn’t get hurt, instead whispers that he’s a “monstrous son.” He asks what she regrets, and she responds that regret is inevitable. Xerius doesn’t like that. He suddenly feels pity for his mother, remembering when they had been close, intimate. But those times were gone. He comes close to apology but warns her to drop the subject or she will regret it.

Then he turns his attention to the young slave girl. He pulls her to him and she trembles, crying, as she lowers herself on him and loses her virginity. As he enjoys her, he sees his mother about to leave, and asks her to stay and watch. She says no.

“But you will, Mother. The Emperor is difficult to please. You must instruct her.”

There was a pause, filled only by the girl’s whimper.

“But certainly, my son,” Istiya said at length, and walked grandly over to the couch. The rigid girl flinched when she grasped her hand and drew it down to Xerius’s scrotum. “Gently, child,” she cooed. “Shussh. No weeping.”

Xerius groaned and arched into her, laughed when she chirped in pain. He gazed into his mother’s painted face suspended over the girl’s shoulder, whiter even than the porcelain, Galeoth skin, and he burned with that old, illicit thrill. He felt a child again, careless. All was as it should be. The Gods were auspicious indeed.

“Tell me, Xerius,” his mother said huskily, “how was it that you discovered Skeaös?”

My Thoughts

I like how Bakker describes Achamian interacting with Iryssas, Dinchases, and Zenkappa without Xinemus around. Always weird when you’re hanging out with the friends of your friends, that strange awkward stage. It’s also good to remind us about them and their personalities.

Cnaiür is being Cnaiür, trying to puzzle out Kellhus motions, probably debating whether or not to warn Achamian while debating how that might effect his goal of killing Moënghus Cnaiür knows he’s playing a deadly game with Kellhus, but he has no choice but to play it.

The subtle plants of Kellhus plan to be seen as a prophet are already bearing fruit in Achamian’s mind as he thinks about praying to the gods and his thoughts turn to Kellhus.

Achamian finds comfort in stories over lies. Stories can be so much simpler than real life. It is probably why humans are so fascinated with them. They are ways to make sense of the world, to put the chaos into order and tame them. From the earliest mythological tales are ancestors created to explain the world around them to parables of today trying to explain the events of our world by proxy.

Cnaiür’s version of the parable, that only gestures are real, is shown by the young bull. He has to prove he is a bull by not just saying it, but by fighting the stronger one where he’ll probably die. But he does it anyways.

Iryssas is painted as a person who think their feelings trump logic and grow angry when those feelings are called into question, making him “dull-witted.”

We see some of Kellhus’s Dûnyain philosophy in his talk of solutions. That courage, honor, love and other emotions are not absolutes but questions that have to be solved. The Dûnyain believes they have to be removed from the equation to solve it, to distill everything down to the Absolute, the self-moving soul not bound to the examples of the past, like the Latter Prophet, revered for their solutions. They stop people from finding their own.

Achamian’s bitterness during the exchange with Kellhus probably stems from being interrupted right when he had worked up the nerve to talk to Xinemus. Isn’t that so annoying when you try to talk to someone, and someone else butts in and messes it all up. Then we get into Achamian’s depression, focusing on being damned and sees his life as wasted because Kellhus brought of Inri Sejunes. Now, Kellhus is a smart guy. He had to know his words would sting Achamian, to make him face damnation again. The time will come when Kellhus promises salvation for sorcerers.

And avoiding Damnation, as we know from the Consult, is a powerful motivation.

Serwë believes Kellhus is the God. And like all believers, they want others to believe the same, to reinforce that they have chosen the right belief. We all do this. We all cherry pick the data that confirms and reinforces our biases. It is very hard to recognize in yourself and make different choices.

What must it be like to dream another man’s life every night. No wonder Achamian confuses himself for Seswatha when he grows emotional, when logic is at its weakest as emotion overwhelms thought.

And we see once again how Kellhus manipulates, feigning being troubled over Achamian’s revelation of the prophecy than instantly cutting through the problem of it, casting doubt. It’s enough to snap out Achamian from it until he goes on to talk about the skin spy and the its implication. Despite Kellhus’s attempts, Achamian remains fixated on the harbinger. Kellhus had a good plan, but Achamian is too dedicated to it. But he’s also conflicted because he loves Kellhus. Which is the Dûnyain’s most potent weapon. It’s also good to see that Kellhus doesn’t always succeed even on people who aren’t Cnaiür. But now he has more data, understands more of Achamian’s problem. And emotions, after all, are solutions looking to be solved.

Learn a bit more about the Inchoroi here. Ancient race of sci-fi aliens crash-landed on a fantasy world. But they came for a reason. And though the bulk of the race is dead, two survive and the Consult is helping further their goals of escaping Damnation. No wonder a group of human sorcerers went over to the Inchoroi.

As always, Cnaiür’s drive, revenge on Moënghus, is present in his thoughts. This scene reinforces that while simultaneously reintroducing the character, his motivations, and background to re-familiarize readers with what has happened before.

Cnaiür’s understanding of Kellhus is a great insight for us as readers as he is constantly questioning everything, wondering at Kellhus’s motives, what his true aims are. That is what we need to do. We can’t be lulled into liking or trusting this character. Otherwise we are deceived just like Achamian, Serwë, Proyas, Xinemus, and others are.

Kellhus’s exchange with Ingiaban is a great strategy when dealing with someone who believes in something, whether it’s religion or philosophy or another belief structure. If you argue outside of their frame of belief, coming at it from the outside, you will have a hard time convincing them. It is better to use their own beliefs to educate them, to show them how they are wrong, to expose any hypocrisy or mistake in it. Kellhus uses this, adopting their beliefs, to appear greater than he is. Notice how Proyas finds merit it in.

Cnaiür thinks himself better than Proyas and the others, his own vanity keeps him from warning them. He doesn’t want to admit he is them.

Bakker, with Cnaiür’s reflection on how Kellhus manipulates, is reintroducing us to him. But first, Bakker showed us Kellhus doing this to Achamian early in the chapter, first driving him away in anger, then later coming and getting the truth from him. And now we see that it wasn’t accidental, but purposeful.

Nothing Kellhus does is accidental.

Cnaiür struggles to focus on the true question—can he trust Kellhus. Nothing else can matter except that. He had to get his revenge, and he needs to keep his hatred to preserve him. But he wonders if Serwë also is enough. He questions it. She is his proof that he is still Scylvendi, his captive bride. But she is Kellhus’s tool.

Cnaiür’s “You know” about the Chorae is an indication he’s made the connection that if Moënghus is a sorcerer, than Kellhus is probably one too.

Serwë’s comments about the horns not having sounded yet has caused some people theorize that she had a premonition about the horns that then sound just a few lines later. Of course, she could just be complaining about being woke up before the Holy War’s equivalent of an alarm clock. And who wants that?

Cnaiür thinks Kellhus wants the Chorae to kill Achamian, but Kellhus, I think, is looking for a way to protect himself against the other Mandate. If he fails to convince Achamian not to tell his colleagues, everything could fail. He knows he can’t stand against sorcerery. Kellhus learned that in the prologue of book 1 against the Nonman.

And now back to the the Emperor and his dysfunctional relationship with his mother. She likes to bring him men and women to please him to get concessions out of him.

So, this is a bit spoilery for book 3, but it’s hard to talk about Xerius’s mother here without touching on this. She is interrogating him about what happened with Skeaös, what he believes he was, and what he plans on doing about it. She tries to manipulate him into seeing this deal with the Fanim to betray the Holy War is a bad idea, trying to frighten him. Why? Because as Xerius fears, there are other skin spies, and the Empress is one of them. His mother was replaced before even the last book started. We see her in The Darkness that Comes Before working with Skeaös to preserve the Holy War and arguing against betraying it. The Consult wants the Holy War to succeed and Xerius’s betrayal could jeopardize all. She’s focused on sparing not the Fanim but the Cishaurim. Our first clue as to why the Consult wants the Holy War to succeed. I think the Empress was replaced when Skeaös failed to be convincing enough. The Consult realized they needed a second person manipulating him, one that he couldn’t ignore like a counselor.

So why didn’t the Consult replace Xerius directly? He is key to their plans. He can make or break the Holy War. Simple. When is he ever alone? He is surrounded by slaves and servants and officials. Even in the bath, he is attended to. Easier to replace his more vulnerable confidants and use them. Of course, they are up against a paranoid, glory-hungry man with delusions of godhood, so it doesn’t go perfectly.

And we end with Xerius finding his happy place, having sex while his mother watches, remembering when they were lovers when he was a child before he became a man (emperor) and could not allow himself to be controlled by his mother. He yearns for those simpler times. She did a really good job fucking him up.

And then she presses again to learn about Skeaös. How in particular Xerius discovered who he was. To the Consult, having a skin spy unveiled is devastating. They are counting on their agents to manipulate events and pass unseen So on the surface, this scene comes off as perverse, Xerius enjoying a young girl, a gift form his mother, but beneath Bakker is advancing the story of the Consult, showing how they manipulate and operate. It’s not much different than Kellhus. Only he’s so much better at it because even us readers can be seduced by him and think he’s a good guy.

Click here to continue onto Chapter Three!

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmailby feather
Facebooktwitterrssby feather

Reread of Storm Front: Part 5

Reread of The Dresden Files

Book 1: Storm Front

by Jim Butcher

Part 5

Welcome to Part 5 of my reread. Click here if you missed the Part 4!

Chapter 13

When Harry wakes up, a spring thunderstorm is sweeping through Chicago. Thunder rumbles through the apartment, and Harry realizes there was a storm the night Jennifer and Tommy died. Harry ponders whether the killer could be harnessing the storm. It would be difficult, the power unstable.

The storm is making Harry nervous, and he reaches for his gun, only to remember he left it in his lab downstairs before heading to the police station. Harry remembers that Linda is coming over soon when someone knocks at the door. Harry finds Susan Rodriguez, dressed up and ready to go on their date.

Harry invites her in and says he needs to take a quick shower. In the shower, Harry is trying to figure out how to handle both Susan and Linda without it blowing up in his face, or revealing anything about the murder case to Susan. Harry catches a flash of movement, someone is heading to the stairs that lead down to his apartment door.

Harry panics, and jumps out of the shower, shampoo still in his hair, and grabs a towel. He enters the living room as Susan reaches for the door. Mister, Harry’s cat, suddenly starts hissing at the door. With an amused smile, Susan opened the door.

As the door opened, I felt it, the cloud of energies that accompanies a spirit-being when it comes into the mortal world, disguised until now by the background clutter of the storm. A figure stood in doorway, rather squat, less than five feet tall, dressed in a plain brown trench coat, illuminated by blue lightning overhead. There was something wrong to the shape, something that just wasn’t a part of good old Mother Earth. It’s “head” turned to look at me, and sudden twin points of fire, as blue as lighting dancing above, flared up, illuminating the leathery, inhuman curves of a face that most closely resembled that of a large and warty toad.

Susan screamed. The demon spits acid at Harry as he dives behind the couch. Harry tells Susan not to get between him and the demon. Susan asks what it is. “A bad guy,” answers Harry. The demon manages to push past Harry’s threshold and enter the apartment as Harry tells Susan to head downstairs.

Harry uses wind magic to summon his staff. Staff in hand, Harry tries to use force to push it out and the demon resists it. Harry fills his strength failing and tells Susan to drink the escape potion. She does, but nothing happens. A moment later, she comes back upstairs with Harry’s .38 revolver and unloads on the demon. The bullets ricochet off the demon, only managing to knock it off balanced. Harry grabs Susan’s arm and drags her down into the subbasement.

Bob the skull asks what’s going on upstairs. Ignoring Bob, Harry and Susan clear stuff off Harry’s magic circle as Bob warns them a toad demon is heading down the ladder. Harry pulls himself and Susan into the circle and channels his will into it, just in time as some acid splatters against the circle’s protection.

The demon paces menacingly in the lab, unable to touch Harry and Susan within the circles. Harry explains that it can’t cross the circle unless one of them breaks it and they will have to stand there until dawn, when the sun’s energy should disrupt the demons form and send it back to the Nevernever.

Susan starts to get amorous as Bob warns she drank the Love Potion instead of the Escape Potion. Bob points out how well the Love Potion works. Harry is less than amused.

The demon watched what was happening in the circle with froggy eyes and kicked a section of floor clear enough debris for it to squat down on its haunches and stare, restless and ready as a cat waiting for a mouse to stick its head out of its hole. Susan stared up at me with sultry eyes and tried to wrench me to the floor, and consequently out of the circle’s protective power. Bob continued to wail his innocence.

Who says I don’t know how to show a lady a good time.

My Thoughts

This is the problem when you set up two dates at the same time. The girls are going to find out what’s going on and then you’ll have a frog demon spitting acid at you. I really hope Harry learns a valuable lesson from this.

It’s a shame when they made the Dresden Files TV show and adapted Storm Front, they left this entire sequence out. The visual of your hero, shampoo suds in hair, dressed in a bath towel, fending off a demon with his staff like Gandalf on the Bridge of Khazad-Dûm would have been interesting.

It’s an exciting sequence. Butcher has this set up so you expect it’s Linda coming, you’re getting ready for how Dresden will explain his way out of this mess only for it to be a demon and things to get serious fast. We get to see Dresden thinking fast on his feet. He’s already figured out the how of his enemy, just in time for said enemy to attack.

Susan is quite a trooper in this. I don’t think I would hold together half as well as she has in this situation. She seems to fall back into reporter mode as well. She constantly asks Harry questions. Doing something familiar probably helps dealing with the stress of the situation.

And Bob was right, that love potion worked great. Next time, Harry, remember to tell her to check the label marked Escape Potion.

Chapter 14

Susan continues her amours advances, making it difficult for Harry and her to stay in the magical circle. Harry asks Bob if he could throw the escape potion to him. Bob will for a twenty-four hour leave from his skull. Harry is reluctant, being responsible for whatever trouble Bob causes, but Bob has him over the barrel and Harry is forced to agree. Bob flows out of the skull as a cloud of orange light and throws the escape potion to Harry. Harry catches the potion and gets Susan to drink it.

It started in my guts—a sort of fluttery, wobbly feeling that moved out, up through my lungs and out along my shoulders, down my arms. It also went down, over my hips and into my legs. I began to shake and quiver uncontrollably.

And then I just flew apart into a cloud of a million billion tiny pieces of Harry, each one with its own perspective and view. The room wasn’t just a square, cluttered basement to me, but a pattern of energies, grouped into specific shapes and uses. Even the demon was only a cloud of particles, slow and dense. I flowed around that cloud, up through the opening in the ceiling pattern, and outside of the apartment and into the raging nonpattern of the storm.

Harry and Susan reformed in the street outside his apartment. Susan feels ill, experience a reaction to drinking to potions but is no longer under the effects of the love potion. Susan’s car keys were left in her coat in the apartment, so the plan is to walk to Reading Road which always floods in heavy rain. Running water grounds out magic, the demon won’t be able to cross it. Thirty yards from the flood, Susan gets violently ill from the potions, and starts vomiting.

I didn’t think you’d last this long,” someone said.

I almost jumped out of my skin. I picked my staff up in both hands and turned in a slow circle, searching for the source of the voice. “Who’s there?” There, to one side, a spot of cold—not physical cold, but something deeper and darker that my other senses detected. A pooling of shadows, an illusion in the darkness between lights, gone when lightning flashed and back again when it had passed.

The Shadowman taunts Harry, boasting that he’s the one who killed him, and its only a matter of time before his demon kills him. Harry reaches out his will towards the shadow and learns its a phantom projections and sends some will through it to metaphorically slap the Shadowman. The Shadowman demands to know how Harry did that. “I went to school,” answers Harry.

The Shadowman is angered and alerts the demon to where Harry and Susan are. The demon starts rushing towards Harry. Harry throws a counterspell at the projection and, screaming in pain, the Shadowman promises death before his spell fails. Harry turns to Susan and tries to get her up, but she’s still too sick and the demon is closing the distance too fast.

Harry searches for a plan. He’s exhausted and was caught unprepared. The rain will prevent fire magic. Harry realizes he can channel lighting throw his staff. He reaches up to the storm with his will and a bolt of lighting follows it down and he sends it through his staff at the demon which exploded mere inches away with blue flame.

Harry’s legs give out and he collapses on the road next to Susan. Morgan appears out of the darkness, accusing Harry of summoning the demon. Harry protests his innocent, saying someone else summoned it. Morgan arrived to late to see the Shadowman and doesn’t believe Harry. He tells him in two days the Council will be here to put him to death and Morgan looks forward to being his executioner. Morgan leaves. A patrol car rolls up, and a pair of officer approach, preparing to arrest them and Susan complains that this is her worst night ever.

I grunted. “That’s what you get for trying to go out with a wizard.”

She glanced aside at me, and her eyes glittered darkly for a moment. She almost smiled, and there was a sort of vindictive satisfaction to her tone when she spoke.

But it’s going to make a fantastic story.”

My Thoughts

The escape potion is really creative. Turning them into wind, flowing, surging. I really love the potions, but after the second book, they almost never make an appearance. And this one has to be so useful. I don’t know why Harry doesn’t keep making it. Butcher is good about Harry learning new techniques and using them again in later books.

The villain finally makes his appearance and clearly has never read How to Be an Evil Overlord. He monologued instead of just killing Harry. He is also not as well trained. He has more power from using the storm, but is not able to stop Harry’s counterspell.

Morgan continues to be a dick, and also has the worst timing. Come on, Morgan. The guy’s naked, not the clothing options I would choose when summoning a demon.

Susan continues to be awesome. Why to turn a horrible, life threatening experience into a career enhancing story. This is why I ship her and Dresden and why it sucks that this ship has sailed. My backup ship still has a chance though.

Chapter 15

The cop who finds them, it turns out, were sent by Murphy to bring Harry to another crime scene and are surprised to find him naked. Susan explains it away as, “Just one of those things, tee-hee,” and the officers let her go. Harry gets dressed and they take him to crime scene.

Murphy and Harry share their usual banter and he leads him into the crime scene. She gives him the run down, another victim, woman, same M.O. as Jennifer and Tommy. This confirms Harry’s theory about using the storm. Murphy reveals the victim is Linda Randall which stuns Harry. Murphy leads him through the apartment to her bedroom where Linda’s body was lying on her bed, phone in her hand, her chest burst open.

Murphy explains that Linda called 911, screaming that she knew who killed Jennifer and Tommy and the phone when dead. Murphy asks if Harry as ever heard of her employer, Mr. Beckitt. Harry just shrugs. Greg and Helen Beckitt’s daughter, Amanda, was killed three years ago. She was the victim of gang violence between Marcone and a Jamaican gang. She died after three weeks on life support. Harry is speechless, having a hard time dealing with Linda’s death.

Well, Harry,” she said. Her voice was hushed, like she didn’t want to disturb the apartment’s new stillness. “What can you tell me?” There was a subtle weight to the question. She might as well have asked me what I wasn’t telling her. That’s what she meant. She took her hand out of her jacket pocket and handed me a plastic bag.

I took it. Inside was my business card, the one I’d given to Linda. It was still curled a little, where I’d had to palm it. It was also speckled with what I presumed was Linda’s blood. I looked at the part of the bag where you write the case number and the identification of the piece.

Murphy waits for Harry’s reaction. Harry claims to have a psychic premonition and explains what Linda told him. Murphy is pissed. If Harry had told her yesterday or this morning when Harry saw her, Linda might be alive. Harry protests that lots of people have his card and doesn’t know how she got it. Murphy threatens to get a warrant to arrest Harry. She pleads with Harry not to make her do that.

Harry is fearful that if he tells Murphy everything, that will make her a target for the Shadowman. The White Council also doesn’t like mortals to know about them and may remove Murphy themselves. Harry pictures Murphy dead the same way as Linda and apologizes and tells her he doesn’t know anything.

I sensed, more than saw, the hardening around her eyes, the little lines of hurt and anger. I’m not sure if a tear fell, or if she really just raised a hand to brush back some of her hair. Then she turned to the front door, and shouted, “Carmichael! Get your ass in here!”

Carmichael enters and she throws him Harry’s card and starts treating Dresden as a suspect, asking him to come down the station for questioning. Harry politely refuses,a saying he doesn’t have time tonight. Murphy tells him if he doesn’t show up tomorrow morning, she will get a warrant. Murphy lets him go, promising Harry that if he’s responsible, she will get him. Harry walks out, feeling “like a total piece of shit.”

My Thoughts

Harry you are a stupid moron. Murphy is a cop, not a civilian. You accuse the white council of being arrogant and above the authority of the law, while you do the same thing. You’re working for the police, going behind their back and concealing evidence they need to solve the crime.

You can’t have it both way, buddy!

You need to either work in the constraints of the law or admit that you are as arrogant as the Council and not work with them and just work in the background. Murphy’s a smart gal, she would be able to handle it. Hell, she probably would be safer if you told her the score.

And now you’ve pissed her off, maybe forever. Idiot!

The plot thickens. Linda works for a couple that has a vendetta against Johnny Marcone, the Shadowman is in a drug war with Johnny, and Johnny’s enforcer was killed by the Shadowman. Linda starts talking to Dresden and is now dead. Me thinks there is a connection there.

The story about the Beckitts ties in to what Harry saw in Marcone’s soulgaze, the guilt that drives the gangster. Now it is interesting in a later book (book 9) we learn that Marcone, from his own lips, was attacked by the son of the then kingpin of Chicago fearing Marcone would usurp his father. It was an assassination hit. Now, the kingpin did cover it up, so maybe the Jamaican gang is the “official” story but it is not what actually happened.

So now Harry has the White Council, the cops, and the Shadowman all against him. Doing great, buddy. And you still need to solve that pesky Victor Sells job that has nothing to do with this case. Just a big ol’ coincidence that you’re hired to investigate a man “dabbling” in magic the morning after two people are gruesomely murdered.

Click here to continue on to Part 6!

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmailby feather
Facebooktwitterrssby feather

Reread of The Warrior Prophet: Chapter One

Reread of Prince of Nothing Trilogy

Book 2: The Warrior Prophet

by R. Scott Bakker

Part 1
The First March
Chapter 1
Anserca

Welcome to Chapter One of my reread. Click here if you missed the Intro!

Ignorance is trust

—Ancient Kûniüric Proverb

Thoughts

What a true statement. When you don’t know the real things a person is saying, doing, or thinking, it is easy to trust them. If you don’t know they’re talking behind your back and undermining your chance at, say, a promotion, then you have no reason not to trust them when they say they’re helping you.

Now how does this apply to our current chapter? Who is ignorant? Well, all men are ignorant of the darkness that comes before, something that Kellhus is constantly exploiting. We have Achamian in this chapter warring with himself whether or not to turn over Kellhus to the Mandate. H doesn’t want to hand him over. Ignorant of the truth of Kellhus, Achamian finds him trusting the Dûnyain

Late Spring 4111 Year-of-the-Tusk, south of Momemn

Drusas Achamian, our sorcerer and spymaster protagonist, sits in his tent muttering an incantation. “Though the moon-shining length of the Meneanor Sea lay between him and Atyersus, he walked the ancient halls of his School—walked among sleepers.” Achamian moves from dream to dream, nightmare to nightmare, until he finds Nautzera, dreaming as Seswatha and cradling the dead king Anasûrimbor Celmomas. A dragon lands and breathes fire, killing the soldiers around Nautzera, but he is protected by sorcerous wards. Achamian knows what will happen in the dream, he’s experienced it many times.

Our Lord,” the dragon grated, “hath tasted thy King’s passing, and he saith, ‘It is done.’”

Nautzera stood before the golden-horned abomination. “Not while I draw breath, Skafra!” he cried. “Never!”

Laughter, like the wheezing of a thousand consumptive men. The Great Dragon reared his bull-chest above the sorcerer, revealing a necklace of steaming human heads.

Thou art overthrown, sorcerer. They tribe hath perished, dashed like a potter’s vessel by our fury. The earth is sown with they nation’s blood, and soon thine enemies will compass thee with bent bow and whetted bronze. Wilt thou repent thy folly? Wilt though not abase thyself before our Lord?”

“As do you, mighty Skafra? As the exalted Tyrant of Cloud and Mountain abases himself?”

Membranes flickered across the dragon’s quicksilver eyes. A blink. “I am not a God.”

Nautzera smiled grimly. Seswatha said, “Neither is your lord.”

Skafra is not pleased by the answer. As the dragon attacks, Nautzera notices Achamian and is confused. Their souls touch and they speak through thoughts. Nautzera is shocked Achamian is alive. The concern shocks Achamian, Nautzera has never liked him. “But then Seswatha’s Dreams had a way of sweeping aside petty enmities.” Achamian reports he is with the Holy War and that it marches on Kian, the debate over the Emperor’s indenture resolved. He shows images of the mighty host marching.

Nautzera asks if Achamian learned anything about Maithanet and his reasons for calling the Holy War. Achamian has not, saying his former Student Proyas, a great prince and one of the leaders of the Holy War, belongs to Maithanet.

What is it with your students, Achamian? Why do they all turn to our rivals, hmm? The ease with which Nautzera had recovered his sarcasm both stung and curiously relieved Achamian. The grand old sorcerer would need his wits for what followed.

Achamian relates what happened in the Emperor’s dungeon at the end of the last book, the unveiling of the skin spy. Achamian has found the Consult, the ancient enemy of the Mandate and the world. He shows the imagery, proving that the skin spy are not marked by sorcerery. Despite Achamian hating Nautzera, he went to him first because he is a fanatic, a Mandate Schoolman who still believes in the Consult after centuries of their absence. He is shocked by what Achamian has seen, realizing the Consult has mastered new arts of the Tekne, the Old Science. He tells Achamian to share the dream with others.

But…

But what? There’s more?

Far more. An Anasûrimbor had returned, a living descendant of the dead king Nautzera had just dreamed.

Nothing of significance, Achamian replied. Why had he said this? Why conceal Anasûrimbor Kellhus from the Mandate? Why protect—

Nautzera interrupts Achamian’s thoughts, urging him to tell all the Quorum this dream. Nautzera realizes what it means if the Consult can put their spies in even the Imperial Court, they could infiltrate anyone. “Send this dream to the entire Quorum! All Atyersus trembles this night.

The next morning, Achamian is walking with his mule Daybreak down the Sogian Way as the sun rises, reflecting on the beauty of the morning. He is reeling. He was used to the waking world not possessing the horrors of his dreams. Bad things happened, but not like the atrocities of two thousand years ago. That had changed he realizes, staring at the Men of the Tusk, the vast army crossing the country side.

The vast host had broken up as they marched through the Empire partly out of prudence for foraging in case the Emperor failed to provision him, but also because the Great Names couldn’t decide on the route south. Achamian finds that a bad start, but his friend Xinemus thinks it is a good thing because Proyas, Xinemus’s lord, chose the road. On a map, it looked longer, but the other hosts cutting across the countryside will learn that roads allow for faster travel. “Even the Scylvendi know roads are fucking better!”

Achamian skulls in the baggage train with his mule during the march. Achamian wonders why he is in the baggage train instead of riding with the Great Names like Seswatha would have. He could. Proyas would, grudgingly, allow Achamian to ride with his party. At first he wonders if it is nostalgia or habit when he realized what it was—aversion. He realizes he is hiding from Kellhus, avoiding him, going out of his way because he feared scrutiny of others, including Kellhus, and because he kept staring at the beautiful Serwë and not like the worshipful way she stares at Kellhus.

Am I going mad?

Several times now, he’d found himself cackling aloud for no apparent reason. Once or twice he’d raised a hand to his cheek to discover he’d been weeping Each time he’d simply mumbled away his shock: few things are more familiar, he supposed, than finding oneself a stranger. Besides, what else could he do? Rediscovering the Consult was cause enough to go mad about the edges, certainly. But to suspect—no, to know—that the Second Apocalypse was beginning… And to be alone with such knowledge!

How could someone like him bear such weight?

Achamian grapples with telling the Mandate about finding Kellhus, but he knows Nautzera would have Kellhus seized and interrogated. Everything had changed in the Andiamine Heights. No longer was the Consult an abstract thing to Achamian, it was far too real. Achamian finds knowing worse than speculating.

But he can’t understand why he conceals Kellhus. “Within the space of days, the Three Seas had assumed the same bloated dimensions as the world he suffered night after night.” It frustrates Achamian that he says nothing. He vows that he will tell them tonight.

Kellhus appears, acting jovial, and Achamian finds himself reacting with equal levity, trying to banish dark thoughts. They joke. Achamian is surprised to find Kellhus walking. Caste Nobles never walked when they could ride.

Kellhus winked. “I thought I’d let my ass ride me for a change.”

Achamian laughed, feeling as though he’d been holding his breath and could only now exhale. Since that first evening outside Momemn, Kellhus had made him feel this way—as though he could breathe easy. When he’d mentioned this to Xinemus, the Marshal had shrugged and said “Everyone farts, sooner or later.”

Kellhus points out that Achamian promised to tutor him and begins leading Achamian’s mule. Kellhus asks the name of the mule, which shocks Achamian with the banality of the question. Not even Xinemus ever asked it, not caring. Kellhus sees Achamian’s turmoil and Achamian realizes “He reads me like any scroll.”

“Is it so easy?” Achamian asked. “So easy to see?”

“What does it matter?”

“It matters,” he said, blinking tears and turning to face Kellhus once again. So I weep! something desolate within him cried. So I weep!

“Ajencis,” he continued, “once wrote that all men are frauds. Some, the wise, fool only others. Others, the foolish, fool only themselves. And a rare few fool both others and themselves—they are the rulers of Men… But what about men like me, Kellhus? What about men who fool no one?”

And I call myself a spy!

Kellhus shrugged. “Perhaps they are less than fools and more than wise.”

Kellhus again asks what troubles Achamian. He deflects, instead answering the question about his mule’s name. Daybreak. “For a Mandate Schoolman, no name was more lucky.”

Achamian reflects on teaching Kellhus over the next few days, in awe of the man’s intellect. They discuss every topic, plants, animals, philosophy, and history. There is no curriculum. Achamian answers Kellhus’s curiosity, letting the student guide the discussion. Achamian is soon in awe of Kellhus’s intellect. No matter the topic “the Prince unerringly struck upon the matter’s heart.” Achamian finds Kellhus offering “explanations and interpretations as fine as any Achamian had read.”

“How?” Achamian blurted on one occasion.

“How what?” Kellhus replied.

“How is it that…that you see these things? No matter how deep I peer…”

Kellhus laughs it off and simply calls it a gift. Achamian is stunned by it. He was more than a genius. Achamian is shocked by how the man thinks. It is like Kellhus Is from a different age entirely.

Most, by and large, were born narrow, and cared to see only that which flattered them. Almost without exception, they assumed their hatreds and yearnings to be correct, no matter what the contradictions, simply because they felt correct. Almost all men prized the familiar path over the true. That was the glory of the students, to step from well-worn path and risk knowledge that oppressed, that horrified. Even still, Achamian, like all teachers, spent as much time uprooting prejudices as implanting truths. All souls were stubborn in the end.

Not so with Kellhus. Nothing was dismissed outright. Any possibility could be considered. It was as though his soul moved over something trackless. Only truth led him to conclusions.

Kellhus asks questions after questions, challenging Achamian’s own interpretations of events. It makes Achamian reflect on his youth when he argued with his teacher Simas, wondering why the older man couldn’t see what, to Achamian, was so clear. Never once do they ever cover the same topic again. Achamian realizes that even as he teaches Kellhus, Kellhus teaches him.

Who am I? he would often think, listening to Kellhus’s melodious voice. What do you see?

They move on to talk about the First Apocalypse, which Achamian finds easy to bring up but hard to discuss. He had lived it, so talking about it in detail is like taking about any other traumatic experience, welling up all the emotions. And Kellhus only makes it worse, reminding Achamian that he betrays his school by not telling them about Kellhus. One day, Kellhus asks about the No-God. Achamian is shocked that someone from Atrithau wouldn’t already know about the No-God. Kellhus says he’s read the Sagas, but wants first-hand accounting. Achamian has seen them.

No, Achamian wanted to say, Seswatha has seen these things. Seswatha.

Instead he studied the distance, gathering his thoughts. He clutched his hands, which felt as light as balsa.

You’ve seen these things. You…

“He has, as you likely know, many names. Men of ancient Kûniüri called him Mog-Pharau, from which we derived ‘No-God.’ In ancient Kyraneas, he was simply called Tsurumah, the ‘Hated One.’ The Nonmen of Ishoriol called him—with the peculiar poetry that belongs to all their names—Cara-Sincurimoi, the ‘Angel of Endless Hunger’… He is well named. Never has the world known a greater evil… A greater peril.”

Kellhus asks if he is an unclean spirit. Achamian answers he is not a demon. “He is more and his less…” Kellhus tries to change the subject and Achamian goes on about how he saw the No-God fight the Kyraneas at the Plains of Mengedda. Achamian realizes he has forgotten something. Kellhus asks what.

“That the Holy War would be crossing the Plains of Mengedda. That I would soon trod earth that had witnessed the No-God’s death…” He looked to the southern hills. Soon the Unaras Spur, which marked the ends of the Inrithi world, would resolve from the horizon. And on the far side…

“How could I have forgotten?”

“There’s so much to remember,’ Kellhus said. “Too much.”

“Which means too much has been forgotten,” Achamian snapped, unwilling to absolve himself of this oversight. I need my wits! The very world…

Kellhus thinks Achamian is being too harsh on himself, but Achamian reminds him what the No-God was like “Every infant stillborn for eleven years—for eleven years, Kellhus!” He relates how “every womb a grave.” Everyone could feel the No-God in their heart, now which direction it lay. He talks about the High North destroyed, Kyraneas on the verge of defeat, their capital sacked. On the Plains of Mengedda, the Kyranease awaited the foe, Seswatha at the side of Anaxophus V, the High King and an old friend to Seswatha.

Achamian abruptly stopped, turning to the north. “Imagine,” he said, opening his arms to the sky. “The day wasn’t unlike this, though the air smelled of wild blossoms… Imagine! A great shroud of thunderheads, as broad as the horizon and as black as crow, boiling across this sky, spilling towards us like hot blood over glass. I remember threads of lightning flashing among the hills. And beneath the eaves of the storm, great cohorts of Scylvendi galloping to the east and west, intent on enveloping our flanks. And behind them, loping as fast as dogs, legions upon legions of Sranc, howling… howling…

Kellhus says Achamian doesn’t have to tell this. But Achamian has to. He needs Kellhus to know this, to understand who Achamian is. Achamian continues, describing the Scylvendi attach, the horde of Srancs, how they fought with reckless abandoned, singing laments for their faces, knowing this was the end of mankind. Dragons attacked, including Skafra.

“Just south of here,” he [Achamian] said, shaking his head. “Two thousand years ago.”

“What happened next?”

Achamian continues, saying the impossible happened. Seswatha killed Skafra, drew back another dragon called Skuthul the Black. The Kyranease stood against the tide. It looked like they might have one. And then the No-God came. The sranc shrieked, scratching at their eyes. Seswatha struggled to breath. Horses reared. Men clutched their ears. Bashrag pounded the ground as “a great whirlwind, like a black umbilicus joining earth and cloud.”

And then the voice, spoken through the throats of a hundred thousand Sranc.

WHAT DO YOU SEE?

I don’t understand…

I MUST KNOW WHAT YOU SEE

Death. Wretched death!

TELL ME

Even you cannot hide from what you don’t know! Even you!

WHAT AM I?

“Doomed,” Seswatha whispered to the thunder. He clutched the Kyranean Great King by the shoulder. “Now, Anaxophus! Strike now!”

I CANNOT S—

Anaxophus fires the Heron Spear and a “thread of silver light” strikes the No God’s Carapace. It explodes, destroying the whirlwind. Achamian is dazed by telling the story, caught up in his memories, thinking he is Seswatha with Anaxophus again. Kellhus pulls him out of it, asking about the Heron Spear. But Achamian can’t answer. He’s drained by telling the story. Achamian can not remember ever telling this tale, one the Mandate are all loath to speak about. But he told Kellhus.

He’s doing something to me.

Stupefied, Achamian found himself staring at the man with the candor of a sleepy child.

Who are you?

Kellhus responded without embarrassment—such a thing seemed too small for him. He smiled as though Achamian were in face a child, an innocent incapable of wishing him ill. The look reminded Achamian of Inrau, who’d so often seen him for what he wasn’t: a good man.

Achamian looked away, his throat aching. Must I give you up, too?

A student like no other.

A group of soldiers start singing a hymn and Kellhus takes off his sandals, asking Achamian to do the same and “bare feet with the others.” Achamian realizes that Kellhus is always giving lessons. “While Achamian taught, Kellhus continually gave lessons.” Achamian didn’t know what the lessons were about, but he knew he was a student to Kellhus and his education was incomplete.

Again, Achamian comes close to using the Cants of Calling at night to tell his brethren about the fulfillment of the Celmomian Prophecy, which most saw as the very reason they exist. He can’t believe he waged world “on a man he’d known no more than a fortnight.” He finds it madness and keeps telling himself “One more day.”

Kellhus believes (or pretends to) that Achamian is worried about the Holy War’s success. Achamian is because he’s seen so many defeats in his dream. But despite being in the war, surrounded by soldiers, it’s not his concern. Achamian starts talking about how Seswatha was a youth when the wars with Golgotterath began. Even then, the wise didn’t understand the stakes. The Norsirai just wanted to subdue. They ruled the north, driven back the Sranc, defeated the Scylvendi They were the power, better than everything. Not even in the beginning, when Shauriatas, Grandmaster of the Mangaecca (the Consult) awakened the No-God did the Norsirai believe they would loose. That in eleven years, only ruins would remain.

Shielding his eyes he looked into the Prince’s face. “Glory doesn’t vouchsafe glory. The unthinkable can always come to pass.”

The end is coming… I must decide.

Kellhus nodded, squinting against the sun. “Everything has its measure,” he said. “Every man…” He looked directly at Achamian. “Every decision.”

For an instant Achamian feared his heart might stop. A coincidence… It has to be!

Suddenly, Kellhus picks up a small stone and throws it at a stone shelf, knocking it over. Achamian asks if he meant to do that. Kellhus says no. “But then that was your point, wasn’t it? The unforeseen, the catastrophic, follows hard upon all our actions.” Achamian didn’t think he had a point.

That night, Achamian can’t even begin the Cants of Calling. Achamian knows Kellhus is the Harbinger and soon the “horrors of his nights” would afflict the world. All the great cities would die like all the past ones did. What right did Achamian have to risk the future.

Because there was something… something about him. Something that bid Achamian to wait. A sense of impossible becoming… But what? What was he becoming? And was it enough? Enough to warrant betraying his School? Enough to throw the number-sticks of Apocalypse? Could anything be enough?

Other than the truth. The truth was always enough, wasn’t it.

He looked at me and he knew. Throwing the stone, Achamian realized, had been another lesson. Another clue. But for what? That disaster would follow if he made the wrong decision? That disaster would follow no matter what his decision?

There was no end, it seemed, to his torment.

My Thoughts

I love this description “dimensionless geometry of dreams” as Achamian reflects on how dreams can transport us across great distances, and how things sort of blend and merge together, bleeding from one thing to another.

It is telling that Achamian as he walks from dream to dream of his fellow Mandate Schoolman, instead only sees nightmares. They all are relieving Seswatha’s life, the harrowing moments as he witnessed the First Apocalypse.

I love the exchange between Nautzera and Skafra. Thought it is really Seswatha, the founder of Mandate School, who speaks these words, as Bakker shows in the the final line of the exchange.

Bakker has mention dragon, Wracu, but here is first good look at one. Huge beasts, servants of the No-God and the Consult. They are engineered beings like the sranc, bashrag, and the skin spies, made from the Tekne. But they possess far more free will than any other creations of the Inchoroi and their successor the Consult as we’ll see in later books.

It is also nice to see what happens after the Celmomian Prophecy, which we saw a number of times in the last book. And Nautzera is completely embroiled in the dream. He doesn’t know he’s not reliving the past until Achamian shakes him out of it.

Nautzera, for such a minor character making his first appearance in the story since Chapter Two of the first book, is a well-drawn out character. He has his reasons for disliking Achamian.

Poor Achamian. Discovering that the horrors of the past would be unsettling. For someone that his always self-reflecting like Achamian is, probing his motivations, it would be familiar to think of yourself as a stranger, to wonder why you do the things you do. Especially how you would change after what Achamian’s been through.

Achamian vow to tell them tonight is so familiar. We all tell ourselves that, wondering if we truly have the strength to do it or are we just lying to ourselves, placating the turmoil inside of us, saying we will do something but knowing we can’t or won’t.

“Everyone farts, sooner or later.” What a profound yet vulgar sentiment. We are all human, all afflicted with the same bodily functions no matter how lofty or pretentious we might feign. And it also shows just how much of a chameleon Kellhus is. He will be whatever he needs to be to master circumstances and the hearts of men. And when you’re ignorant of who Kellhus truly is, like Achamian, it is so easy to trust him.

Ajencis quote about fools is a great one. How often do we lesson to people for truth, whether theologians or scientist or talk show hosts. We imagine they know all these things with certainty while forgetting that they are humans, that they have our same self-doubt and, worse, can be wrong. Will be wrong. And then fools, of course, deluding themselves which leads us to rulers, politicians. Who both believe what they say to get you to support them.

Bakker, through Achamian, equates teaching with fatherhood. The point of a teacher is to shape, just like a father, or any parent, wishes to shape their children into a proper adult. Well, the good parents. The joy of a teacher for a student is akin to the joy of a parent.

“There was something about the way Kellhus thought, an elusive mobility Achamian had never encountered. Something that made him seem, at times, a man from a different age.” Achamian is touching on just how vast the intellect the Dûnyain have bred and trained for the last two thousand years. The ease with which Kellhus interrupts and exceeds the great minds of bygone eras is going to overawe an intellectual man like Achamian. All part of the seduction.

Narrow thoughts definitely characterizes humans. We all cherry-pick things that flatter are own believes. Even intelligent people can fall into this trap. Most like to lock themselves in an echo chamber and ignore those ideas that cause them to question their own world-view. Achamian’s insight in Kellhus thoughts as “trackless” is exactly how Kellhus is. Achamian is learning what a Dûnyain is, but he is still ignorant.

What do you see? Achamian asks that question in his mind to Kellhus. It is the same question the no-god asks. The no-god is one thing I am greatly looking forward to getting answers on. In this very chapter, we discuss the no-god after Achamian asks the question. Is Bakker trying to subtly hint that the no-god is seeking understanding of his own purpose, his own role even as he destroys the world? A blind entity flailing about, unable to control the damage he inflicts? Maybe.

Atrithau is one of the two cities remaining in the dead north, built on anarcane ground, a place where sorcery doesn’t exist. Achamian is right to be shocked by the holes in Kellhus’s knowledge about the No-God. OF course, Kellhus is good enough to cover up those holes. It is interesting that Atrithau and Sakarpus are the two cities that survived. Sakarpus has the Chorae Horde (small, iron balls that make a person immune to sorcerery) the largest collection of trinkets in the world, and Atrithau is built on a place were sorcery cannot exist.

We get reference to the Scarlet Spires consulting with demons, a branch of magic called the Daimos.

Mengedda sounds like a wonderful place. Only witnessed the death of the No-God. It is also the place where the Vulgar Holy War was defeated in the last novel. Mengedda of course, brings up the Valley of Meggido from the bible, a real place where armies throughout history have fought. A place soaked in blood. The word Armageddon derives from the Hebrew word Valley of Meggido. A fitting place for the No-God to die and the Holy War to cross.

Remembering the past is so very important. And the world has forgotten the Consult, the No-God, and the First Apocalypse. It is the Mandate’s job to keep it alive, and they failed. So it is no wonder that now, with the Consult back and the Harbinger appearance, that Achamian has to inform Kellhus, to make him understand.

Bakker’s description of the Battle of Mengedda is chilling, haunting. Just the idea that for 11 years no humans were born is terrifying. An entire generation that never even lived. Knowledge that there would be no youths growing up to join the fight. That they had to win or it was over. A true Apocalypse.

What do you see? What am I? These are the questions the No-God needs answering. This may be related to damnation. The No-God may be asking someone with the judging eye to see if he is still damned. It is one explanation of this. The whole motivation of the Consult is to avoid the very real damnation of Bakker’s universe. I CANNOT S— The No-God’s final words. What couldn’t he see? I am eager for The Unholy Consults release, hopefully next year since the manuscript is complete.

The Heron Spear is a laser. It’s Inchoroi technology. What happened to it after the No-God’s death is a question everyone asks. It has been lost. It is the only thing that can kill the No-God. Sorcery is out since the No-God’s carapace, a golden sarcophagus, is studded with magic-nullifying Chorae

Achamian has lost his two favorite students, one to actual death and the other to fanaticism. And now he has a new student to love, a student who he should turn over to the Mandate. Again, he will betray his school for the love of his pupil.

The lesson, Achamian, that Kellhus is teaching you is to trust him, to believe in him, to be in awe with him, so you’ll do what he wants.

Shauriatas and his school the Mangaecca were a Gnostic school, like Seswatha’s Sohonc. They broke through the Nonmen’s protective magics over Golgotterath, the crashed spaceship of the Inchoroi, and awakened the last two Inchoroi (one of whom is the Synthese directing the skin spies from the last novel). The No-God is a weapon they “awoke.” Something the Inchoroi had bet never used even as they lost their wars with the Nonmen The consult is born from the union of the Mangaecca with the last two Inchoroi

It wasn’t a coincidence that Kellhus mentions decisions just when Achamian is grappling with a big one. Though we aren’t getting Kellhus’s POV, we are reminded of just how skillful he is at reading people.

Kellhus has done a great job of keeping Achamian from telling the Mandate. We’ll learn later on that Kellhus knows to be wary of the Mandate. He is deliberately manipulating Achamian. He has figured out Achamian love of teaching and affection for his students. He has made Achamian love him. That’s what the Dûnyain do.

All in all, this is a great chapter. Bakker gets us all caught up on both the immediate story of the Holy War and the more vague threat of the Consult and the Second Apocalypse No other character than Achamian could have served to do that, mixing dreams, his mission, and his interactions with Kellhus allow Bakker to pen a masterful recap chapter.

Bakker has set the stage for Achamian’s moral dilemma and sets the stage for what the Holy War can expect.

Click her to continue on to Chapter Two!

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmailby feather
Facebooktwitterrssby feather

Reread of The Warrior Prophet: Intro

Reread of Prince of Nothing Trilogy

Book 2: The Warrior Prophet

by R. Scott Bakker

Intro

latestAfter I finished The Darkness that Comes Before, there was no way I could stop there. I had to find out where this story was going. I had to know more about the Consult, what happened into the past, how the characters would handle the Holy War, who truly was behind the events shaping the world, and, lastly, I had to read more about one of the most intriguing characters I have ever read—Anasûrimbor Kehllus.

I was glad that the Prince of Nothing Trilogy was all published (only to learn later it was just the first of three series of the greater Second Apocalypse Metaseries). The Warrior Prophet did not disappoint me, leading us from the politicking of the first book into the harsh reality of ancient and medieval warfare.

Bakker never once flinches from the depths of human depravity. It lurks in all of us, this capacity to do great harm. The Warrior Prophet is brutal at times. Bakker has been accused of misogyny for how women are treated in his series, but he is illuminating a fundamental part of humans—we forever divide ourselves into nations, tribes, races, and other divisions. And once we have, we are capable of great cruelty on others. A man who would die to protect his wife will have no compulsion murdering the wife of his enemy.

SPOILOR WARNING: Please read the book before any of these posts. This is intended for those who have read the books. I will discuss both the events of the chapter and even their ramification for future events.

Like with the first book, Bakker opens the Warrior Prophet with a quote. Not a fictitious quote from his own setting, but a quote from Immanuel Kant.

“Here we see philosophy brought to what is, in fact, a precarious position, which should be made fast even though it is supported by nothing in either heaven or earth. Here philosophy must show its purity as the absolute sustainer of its laws, and not as a herald of laws which implanted senses or who knows what tutelary nature whispers to it.”

—Immanuel Kant, Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals

My Thoughts

Bakker is a philosopher of human consciousness. So it should not be surprising that philosophy plays a huge role in his stories. We have several philosophies introduced in the first book, especially the Dûnyain and their pursuit of the Logos—the Absolute. They have stripped everything from the world in the application of their philosophy. They have trained out as much passion and emotion from their students, breeding them for intelligence. They have tried to make its purity sustain itself, as Kant describes above.

But Kant is talking about morality, something wholly alien to the Dûnyain Morality has to be its own law, something pure, something remote, something not apart from religious dictations (heaven) or the whims of capricious man (earth). It is something which must be pure. If it doesn’t sustain itself by its own power, then it is suspect because something whispers to it, something unseen, unknown.

Something whispering out of the darkness that comes before it.

This is a great quote for the book we’re about to read. Morality clashes against morality as religion battles religion. Whose right is moral? Who are the just ones? The Fanim defending their lands, or the Inrithi reclaiming what has been stolen?

Maybe neither of them are, and we are about to watch unfold a great tragedy of death and suffering while something whispers from the shadows. Something manipulating, something corrupting. I hope you are excited for The Warrior Prophet!

If you haven’t gotten bored yet, click her for Chapter One.

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmailby feather
Facebooktwitterrssby feather