Three Seas Forum

the archives

dusted off in read-only


A critique of the Warrior Prophet posted 08 December 2005 in The Warrior ProphetA critique of the Warrior Prophet by butlersr, Candidate

First of all Bakker's writing is excellent - I'll begin there. But I read that he took 15 years to write the first book and then was pressured by contract to finish the second book in only one year. I was wondering if I'd see a difference and I really did.
TWP was pretty thin. I mean, Bakker knows how to fill pages and he knew how to keep me turning them - but now that I'm finished I feel like I've had rice cakes instead of a meal. First of all lets look at what really happens in this book when you boil it down. The army goes on march and has battles, and the rest of the substance is just about Kellhus. But not really about Kellhus-Just about how great he is and how everyone reacts to him. I mean, I feel like Bakker got stuck with the title. I feel like I've been beat over the head with HE'S A WARRIOR! HE'S A PROPHET! Yes yes, we know. He becomes a one dimensional christ archetype. He preaches to the masses, he's martyred, he rises. Only one difference, he kills, has sex, and is a sociopath - oh yes, that's right HE'S A WARRIOR!
And it got a little hokie when he started catching swords with his fingertips and doing pirroetts (sp?) in the air. He becomes a little bit comic book at that point.
Bakker didn't explore his main character at all. His motivations were weak and thin. Yes I know, he's after his father. But that's not explored at all. Nor is his relationship with his father. As to whether he wants to kill him or join him who knows. But really, I mean this is the focus of the book - he's driving himself toward his father. It's the reason for EVERYTHING he does apparently. And yet it's not explored at all? Wha?
I feel like Bakker rested on the fact that he's a good writer and forgot to give the story a heart, a structure, a purpose. I'm left with only whispy impressions: Great Kellhus, brutal and sexually conflicted Cenuiar, poor Akka, throw in alot of swollen phalluses and parting thighs and all the rest (the battles, the alliances, the arguements) is just the framework the characters sit on. Bakker loves his characters Kellhus and Cenaur more than he loves his story. Here's my proof of this claim. Outside of the characters the story is The Holy War. So you look at that almost like it's a character itself. Ok, what do we know about the Holy War? It's against these guys - Fanim, right? Who the hell are the Fanim? Does Bakker even care? We never hear much of them, or see their perspective, or know their motivations, or what makes them the enemy. What annoys me is that it's almost like Bakker knows that he hasn't fleshed them out at all - so he tells us what to think of them. Using the author's voice, which is almost always impartial he only referrs to them only as "The Heathen". At the last battle when one of the 'heathen' generals is killed and his family is in danger, Bakker explains that one of his sons is able to get the other children to safety. Sounds like a pretty good think to do - but again Bakker tells us what to think by only describing the boy as "one of the more slippery" or something like that. It's like he doesn't want us to ask "who are these people?" Because then he'd have to take precious time away from describing how great Kellhus is and how brutal Cenaur is.
My theory is that he's so in love with these characters because they are him, Bakker. I'd say that the Warrior-Prophet is Bakker's idealized self, and Cenaur is his dark half. His view of women is clear enough and the rest of the characters are only there to react to him (being Bakker's idealized self as well as his dark half). They are in awe of his idealized self but also fear and persecute it, and are distgusted and fearfull of his dark half. So I guess I'm saying that the books, as good as they are - are all about him. But what great writer isn't a narccist, really?
Ah, but there is my main criticism then - that is where the book faltered. Bakker wasn't interested in the other characters so much - only how they reacted to his main characters, or as I said-him. So the character developement fell short, motivations weren't explored. The plight of the narccisist again. Being "all about the author" limited it from being great.
And that's too bad, because it could have been great. view post


The Three Seas Forum archives are hosted and maintained courtesy of Jack Brown