Thursday, February 14, 2013

Book Review: The Prince of Nothing (Series)

I'm not going to go into to much details here other than some of my opinion on the series as the wiki entry for this series is very accurate and quite helpful and I don't really see any reason to repeat it.

The series of three books is all about character development. The central plot is fairly straight forward and most of the book follow a fairly plodding pace. The plot is important but really this book comes down to its characters. The book series has a fairly strong philosophical bent and tons of words are devoted to laying out the various lines of philosophical thought, the nature of the various magics, and probing the nature of human perception. It's some pretty heavy stuff.

What did I think of it? Well, I finished it. I finished it even though I had a copy of the last book of the Wheel of Time series. The Prince of Nothing is not an addictive page turner. With most books I read, I burn through them as fast as I can. I read this series at a very relaxed pace, in one case taking over a week off before I started reading it again. It is pretty easy to put down because the pace is very slow and there is always lots to absorb. The series does lay out a few mysteries that I was very curious about and I had to get to the end to discover the answer.

The first book was VERY hard to get into. Through out the series I found myself not really liking any of the characters. They were interesting but I really didn't give a hoot about whether they lived or died. The two most interesting characters don't show up until the second half of book one making the first half a real pain to get through. It is all world building and character development.

Don't get me wrong, there is lots of interesting stuff here. The world has a very 12th century Mediteranean  feel to it. A Crusade is being called and the Byzantine Emperor is both scheming with and against his European associates. There is lots of political jockeying and it isn't until the arrival of the "Prince" that the story really gets underway. A Jesus Christ like prophet figure even gets thrown into the mix. The battles are great and well written but the real conflicts here are all interpersonal.

The series doesn't have a full end. Like real world events, the story never stops and this tale is no different. At the Climax of the series, the Prince of Nothing reveals his true motivation, makes an important decision and a large battle is fought.  There are hints about what events are likely to follow but the book simply ends without tying up many issues. I wasn't surprised to learn that the author is writing a second series that takes place 20 years in the future. The Second Apocalypse is coming after all.

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