I finished R. Scott Bakker‘s The White Luck Warrior last week. I’ll be spoiling the plot of the book so if you’re sensitive to spoilers for this book or any of the books that preceded it in the series, turn back now.
I enjoy this series more and more with every book (despite the terrible book covers). This is the fastest I’ve ever read one of Bakker’s books, I finished up in a little over two weeks. Usually I take my time and digest his books a little more, but I was so caught up in Achamian and Sorweel’s stories that I couldn’t stop reading. Bakker gets better with every book, and The White Luck Warrior is just as big an improvement over The Judging Eye as it was over The Prince of Nothing. The characters and plot were extremely engaging and kept me emotionally invested in their stories the whole way through. The only issue I had is some of his writing is so vague and subtle it can be hard to know what’s actually happening. These moments are few and far between however, and this book is Bakker’s best so far.
Once again, Achamian and his arc are the highlight of this book. Achamian and Mimara are easily my two favorite characters of this second half of Bakker’s series. It’s hard not to love Achamian, his tragic past with Kellhus and Esmenet make him instantly sympathetic and his love for Mimara makes him all the more likable. For her part, Mimara feels like a more youthful version of the Esmenet we saw in the first trilogy. They go through hell in this book , battling Sranc, the Slog of Slogs, drug addiction, and a dragon.
Sorweel is still with the Great Ordeal, battling Sranc and gaining the trust of allies. Sorweel felt like a more fully realized character in this book. In the previous book, Sorweel felt like a character who was just positioned in the army so that Bakker could give us a POV into Kellhus’s march. Sorweel didn’t press the action and he didn’t make a lot of autonomous decisions. Most of his story happened to him, rather than Sorweel taking the reigns and determining his own fate. This time around, he was a much more active character and I ended up enjoying his arc much more than I did last time. He ends up leaving the Great Ordeal by the end of the book, and I’m excited to see where Bakker takes him next.
Esmenet’s arc in this book dragged the most for me. Her chapters were primarily split between herself and her son Kelmomas. It’s unfortunate, because I really enjoyed her in the previous trilogy. Her sections weren’t bad, but in contrast to the other more exciting POV chapter I never looked forward to reading about her and the empire in the Andiamine Heights. Kelmomas was the bright spot in these chapters. He’s a manipulative, murderous brat and he has Esmenet completely fooled as to his true nature. Kelmomas may be my favorite addition Bakker has made in this newer series.
The story follows the Great Ordeal north on their journey to Golgotterath, the Skin Eaters and their journey to the Library of Sauglish, and the politicking back at home in Momemn. The plot moved along briskly with the Great Ordeal and the Skin Eaters. Each time one of these chapters ended, I had a sense of loss as I wanted to keep reading about either of these plots. The stuff in Momemn seemed too drawn out for me. I honestly don’t care as much about Esmenet or the policitics in Momemn as the other plots, even with Kelmomas and his siblings in play. The passages with the white luck warrior also really confused me, and I didn’t even realize the assassin at the end was him rather than the narindar. I had to look that whole thing up online before I understood what actually happened. For me that’s a small criticism, as I ended up enjoying her passages alright. I think she suffers more in contrast to the other two, rather than her story being uninteresting or poorly written.
Overall I really loved this book. In a lesser book, Esmenet’s story may have been a highlight, and it’s weighed down purely because there are two fascinating storylines competing with it for page time. If you’ve read this far into the series, you’re going to love this book. I don’t know why you’d get this far and stop, the writing and the characters just keep getting better and better. 4.5 Gibsons out of 5.
I’m going to take a break before I hit the next book, Bakker isn’t releasing the final book until July next year and I tend to mix up all the fantasy names if I take too long a break (Ishroi, Inchoroi, Fanim, Fanayal, Malowebi, Maithanet, etc.) I’ll probably start the next book in March. Next I’m pushing on with Peter Hamilton, despite the disappointing intro I had with him a few weeks ago.