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Artful Candidate | joined 10 October 2005 | 12 posts

Open review - Prince of Nothing vol 1 posted 10 October 2005 in ReviewsOpen review - Prince of Nothing vol 1 by Artful, Candidate

((Sorry about the double post, missed this forum somehow.))

Hi. I've recently read the first book in the series, and as is my habit I give an honest review.

This book almost seems to belong in a different era. It reminds me heavily of my grandfather's collection of Conan and Tarzan novels. In this book there is less of a sense of the mythical traditions of Lucas and Tolkien and a return to the idealism of the individual. The individual moves history, and the individual is great or terrible and allows noone to judge him.

This book also relies heavily on the male-dominated ideology of books written prior to the 1960s. The relationships of primary impact are between men, many with homosexual overtones. Only four of the major named characters are female, and they number among them an aging seductress, an abused wife, a camp follower, and a prostitute. Each of these is heavily defined by how the males in their life dominate and affect them. All that's missing is the Islamic-analouge harem girls getting turned on by being whipped.

That being said, such representations are probably accurate to the era, and there are many examples of females being proactive in their own fates. It's not a total wash, but you're walking a very fine line with the obscene.

On top of all this, the title character, Kellhus, presents as a complete sociopath. Almost every time I see him talk I get forcible flashbacks of Anthony Hopkins' famous line, "Are the lambs still screaming, Clarisse?" In a way, it's extemely disappointing that so few of the characters see through him. And given the foreword to the book, it's disappointing to see such blatent sociopathy being held up as 'heroic' behavior.

Of course I realize that heroic in this context doesn't mean good, as anyone who knows something about the Crusades realizes when they hear the characters discuss their own Holy War.

On the whole, I find this to be a remarkable constrained and coherent work of dark fantasy. However, this leaves you with something of a contradiction. The only room for growth, it would seem, is deeper and more elaborate darkness. Already you're gazing pretty hard into the abyss, and I wouldn't want to see you fall.

I'll stick around for a while if anyone wants to further respond. view post

The No-God posted 07 December 2005 in The Warrior ProphetThe No-God by Artful, Candidate

All you have to do is look at at history to find plenty of examples of gods being worshipped out of fear. Look at how many cultures had human sacrifices, blood rituals, etc.

One good example is Baal, though how much of his bad rep is Jewish propaganda after the fact is unclear.

As for the Scylvendi, don't look any farther than the Mongols. Their Golden Horde left pyramids of skulls in their wake. They reduced the population of the entire earth by a measureable fraction. The Europeans called them 'Tartars' after Tartarus, the Greek hell. They were posed to sack the major countries of europe, and were only stopped by the death of Genghis Khan, which left a power vacuum. view post

What's my motivation? posted 07 December 2005 in The Warrior ProphetWhat's my motivation? by Artful, Candidate

I tend to speed-read and miss details, so does anyone have clues on the following:

Why are the non-men so keen on depopulating humanity? Is it just vengance?

What is the ultimate goal of the Dunyan?

Is there any mention of the dark angels in the historical retrospectives?

Did Kellhus ever make plans beyond meeting/killing his father?

Is there any particular reason why the Few have to expose themselves to enemy fire?

Devil's in the details. view post

Kellhus, Achamiam, and Emotion posted 07 December 2005 in The Warrior ProphetKellhus, Achamiam, and Emotion by Artful, Candidate

The word you're grasping for is 'sociopath'. From the greek, the literal meaning is 'social illness'. That is, someone who does not conform to the expectations and morals of society.

Kellhus clearly is a sociopath. He's got all the classic markers for it. The discomfort you describe feeling is typical of an uninvolved person watching a sociopath work. view post

Literary psychoanalysis posted 15 December 2005 in The Warrior ProphetLiterary psychoanalysis by Artful, Candidate

Well, as interesting as it is to speculate on the author, what about the story itself?

The style of writing is dark fantasy. The best known example of dark fantasy is the horror movie. It's marked by several factors; foremost is the relatively casual treatment of sex and violence. Also, the sense of doom, of the inevitable coming to pass. Nowhere is this better illustrated than the epilouge, in which horrors are dryly and dissociatively recounted in an almost dream-like quality.

However, the key point of dark fantasy is a deliberate distension, stretching a point of human nature in order to highlight our own basic flaws. In horror movies we curse the woman for entering the dark room to investigate the strange sounds. She does so to exaggerate our own illusions of security and safety in a dangerous world.

In the same way, Prince of Nothing distends the basic sense of credulity and tendency of people to believe. Doubt is luxiourious and rare, with many not questioning themselves, and in fact strenulously avoiding doing so. This motif is repeated throughout the story, most noticably in the title of the first book. Sure, it's unrealistic to have such a dearth of cynicism in an army of all places, but such is the nature of the art form.

Which leads us to our title character, Kellhus. Kellhus is, symbollically, a psychological prototype, that of a sociopathic cult leader. There are so many examples of this all I can do is offer to educate anyone who disagrees. Similarities can be found to Charles Manson, Jim Jones, and Jesus. (Apologies to any offended by that.)

This analysis illuminates all of his actions. Given his immense physical prowess, he doesn't need Cnauir to help him across the steepe; what he needs is someone to play off of. He's in constant need of an audience and looks for one even when he's by himself.

His treatment of women is two-fold; firstly, he feels more comfortable in the company of the opposite gender for several reasons. Physical and sexual dominance are the most obvious, as well as any number of male-female relationship factors which I will not enumerate here. If you've been in love, you know.

Secondly, cult leaders commonly take women for themselves and drive away their men. Kellhus specifically state he seduced Serwe to get to Cnaiur, and similar reasoning can be applied to Esme and his tutor Akka. Degrading the authority of a man by taking his woman can be found broadly in human expression dating back to Eve and the serpent, and in fact is found in almost all social animals. It's a straightforward power play.

Of course, all of the power-gathering is to cover up the underlying flaw, which is paranoia. In this case it's hard to see, but upon reflection the Logos can been seen as an extremely refined form of paranoia. It focuses on eliminating the unknown by analyzing every possible detail, and whether its admitted or not the root logic is that of fear. The best example is Kellhus repeatedly saying that he needs to learn the factors involved in war from Cnauir, when everything else seems to fall so easily to his analytical talents.

This prototype supports the entire work. Kellhus is furnished with ideal situation, a war of fanaticism, in which to exercise and examplify prototypical behavior. Enemies, terrible and subtle, are created as antagonists and trials to pit it against. The whole story rotates around this axis. In my opinion. view post

You should be afraid... very, very, afraid. posted 15 December 2005 in Author Q & AYou should be afraid... very, very, afraid. by Artful, Candidate

You're taking this too seriously. The tactic of appealing to emotions instead of logic has been known for the entire span of human history and been exploited for just that long. All human politics have been based on exploiting this. At best, this represents a new research tool.

Personally, I'm more worried about the unification of media and culture in an effort to make everyone respond the same way to the stimuli revealed by such research. view post

Why can't Kellhus plan? posted 17 December 2005 in Author Q & AWhy can't Kellhus plan? by Artful, Candidate

This is just confusing the heck out of me, so I'll just ask... He's a very intelligent guy. However, he frequently seems caught flat-footed.

He was involved in the war planning, but he didn't forsee the water ships being ambushed? The adage 'an army marches on its stomach' is so basic that he should have been able to pick it up in an instant.

He spotted the first skin-spy, but didn't think there might be others? He had to come with a new plan when he met Sarcellus. Also, he had no previous escape plan when the army got trapped.

Moreover, he's a public religious figure in a hostile country with a rapidly diminishing army. He might get to his father, but I refuse to believe any amount of sweet-talking would save him if he was caught.

Even bigger, he said that his ultimate mission was to prevent the corruption of the world from reaching the Dunyan. Or so he said to the trapper, and he had no reason to lie. It's equally obvious that the world is affecting him. However, he often seems to think he has much to teach them when he comes back. However, if what he said is correct, the Dunyan will kill him to prevent corruption. Why doesn't he see that? view post

Why can't Kellhus plan? posted 17 December 2005 in Author Q & AWhy can't Kellhus plan? by Artful, Candidate

Finding water in the desert was example of being reactive. He couldn't have planned that because:

1) He hadn't been in a desert before
2) He would have been gambling with his own life
3) While it increased his position, it weakened the army. Clearly he thought he could have the whole thing.

And are you contending that while listening to war planning he remained deliberately ignorant of everything regarding to war, trusting entirely in someone who hated him to tell him?

You'll find no bigger fan of wheels-within-wheels plots than me. (Read "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman for the best example of that style.) I was completely blown away by the revelations that the Ancients of the story were in fact aliens. However, these caricture masks of characters are driving me nuts. view post

Literary psychoanalysis posted 19 December 2005 in The Warrior ProphetLiterary psychoanalysis by Artful, Candidate

No, you weren't making personal judgements, so it's cool.

I'd put it more as a case of opportune timing than social commentary... if there are any allegories to modern times I can't spot them. There's been a lot of focus on the Crusades recently (note Kingdom of Heaven), so that's probably why the publishing went forward now. view post

A critique of the Warrior Prophet posted 19 December 2005 in The Warrior ProphetA critique of the Warrior Prophet by Artful, Candidate

If you've learned something, that's the main thing.

If you think a person has to be gay to write homoerotic material, I'd suggest you search for the term "yaoi". I could bury you under a mountain of homoerotic material written by straight girls and boys.

In my opinion, there certainly was a lot of eroticism floating around, including homoeroticism. In Cnauir's case this was to set him up as Kellhus' bitch, IMO. view post

Was Cnauir gay? posted 19 December 2005 in The Thousandfold ThoughtWas Cnauir gay? by Artful, Candidate

Quote: "Anonymous":eub0zhxh
I think it was all spelled out quite clearly when it was said about Cnaiur that he "desires illicit congress".
gee, what could that mean?[/quote:eub0zhxh]

That was with his wife. I imagine there's quite a few people who enjoy "illicit congress" with their wives and girlfriend who aren't gay. <!-- s:P --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_razz.gif" alt=":P" title="Razz" /><!-- s:P --> view post

Why can't Kellhus plan? posted 19 December 2005 in Author Q &amp; AWhy can't Kellhus plan? by Artful, Candidate

You're just restating the question, really... saying that adapts well is the same as saying he's reactive instead of proactive.

And no, as the books progress, new items keep popping up, most notable his near execution and the mysterious business of TTT.

He might have some secret plot we're not aware of, but I don't really buy it. All he's ever done to plan is the broad scheme of recruiting members of the holy war, which he's done in an extremely unweildy and dangerous way. This is a very odd and inexplicable character flaw. A 'Mary Sue' character is typified as much by their sufferering as their successes. view post


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