I finished The Great Ordeal this week. I devoured this book, especially compared to how long it took me to read through Pandora’s Star. While I am absolutely fascinated by Bakker’s world, this book suffers from being split in two. The Great Ordeal was supposed to be the first half of one book, The Unholy Consult. For whatever reason, it was split into two separate books. The Great Ordeal came out last year and The Unholy Consult comes out in July. It’s hard to discuss a book like this. I’ve read in various places online that Bakker has had issues with his publisher, and I believe the publisher pressured him to split this book. Whatever happened, The Great Ordeal isn’t as great as it should be.
Once again, we follow several main storylines: Achamian and Mimara and their search for Kellhus’ origins, Sorwheel and his encounters in a Nonman mansion, Kellhus and the Great Ordeal’s struggle through the wilderness, and Esmenet and Kelmomas in the capital city of the empire. Achamian and Mimara’s storyline is again the most interesting to me. The most interesting worldbuilding is done in their storyline. The nature of the Dunyain is fascinating, and I couldn’t wait to get back to their chapters. Sorwheel was a close second. When he was introduced in the first book I had a very difficult time connecting with his character. However, in the previous book I really started to enjoy his POV chapters, and the background that we get on the Nonmen through his eyes in this book is excellent. Esmenet and Kelmomas are still my least favorite characters in these books. However, so much happens to them and around them in Momemn that I enjoyed their chapters immensely. The Great Ordeal itself was actually the slowest storyline for me in this book. Not a ton happened until near the climax of the book. Even with that said, everything about it was interesting and I enjoyed reading from Proyas’s perspective.
This is the frustrating thing about this book. I enjoyed it a great deal. All of the characters are interesting, and there is a ton of interesting world building done in The Great Ordeal. It’s really unfortunate that all of these storylines are left dangling at the end. It feels to me like this book doesn’t really have an ending, it just decides to stop. I’m sure when taken as the first half of one continuous book it’ll be more satisfying, but as a standalone reading experience while The Unholy Consult has yet to be released, it’s a frustrating read.
If nothing else, I’m extremely excited for the next and final book in this series. I wish there was more resolution in this book. It’s clear that the business decisions of the author and/or the publisher affected the structure of this book, and that definitely affects the reading experience unfortunately. If you’re all in on Bakker and his work, you’re going to love this book for the insights you get into the Nonmen, Ishual, and Kellhus. However, this book ends right when everything is ramping up. So if you’re looking for resolution, you might wait until July and read this together with The Unholy Consult.