Wednesday, May 19, 2010
When I originally read it in November 2008, I made a post about elements of the book that occurred to me at the time. Instead of writing around these points, I'm going to copy/paste them and elaborate on a few of them, giving my take after completing my third read just now:
The Judging Eye, clocking in around 420 pages of narrative, is the second-shortest of Bakker's epic fantasy volumes. However, he manages to compress a fairly strong narrative arc into 1/2 of this book, doing more than just the initial setups that he established in the first PoN volume, The Darkness That Comes Before. Furthermore, there is a greater emphasis on establishing the consequences of action rather than philosophizing about said actions.
This is a very important step in expanding the narrative, as there were times late in PoN, where it seemed virtually all of the action and narrative meaning had collapsed around the character of Kellhus. While this was important for establishing the centrality of Kellhus in that particular trilogy, in this one, despite it bearing the name of Kellhus's adopted title, it appears much of the focus will be on those who resist Kellhus's manipulations and those who are fighting to find a newer sort of meaning, one that is not dominated by the Dûnyain. Furthermore, by having no Kellhus PoV, those times in which he does appear allows for the reader to see him from the vantage point of the characters who are beholding him in action.
The journey of Akka, Mimara, and the mercenary Sranc hunters, the Skin Hunters, through the apparently-abandoned Nonmen mansion of Cil-Aujas, is perhaps one of the best homages to Tolkien's Moria scene that I have read. The combination of stifling atmosphere, alternating slow and quick pacing to the narrative, and the slow unveiling of all of the horrors entombed in this "topos" were done to great effect. With this most recent re-read, I found myself appreciating more what had been established within these chapters that explains not just a bit of the setting's "history," but also the consequences that now face the company as they march through it.
Kellhus' youngest surviving child, Kelmomas, is a real sociopath in this volume. He exudes this sense of danger that belies his young, eight year-old body. The other children felt more like autistic savants of varying degrees, but Kelmomas truly is a monster-in-development and I am curious to see what Bakker will do with him in future volumes.
Well, I went a bit further,but only to give a hint of what I enjoyed. This novel took several days for me to complete (in part due to much of my reading time being taken up with BAF responsibilities and in part due to a mild sinus/lung infection), but yet it seemed as though I were reading tomes' worth of material in the span of barely 400 pages. Bakker has matured as a writer, allowing inference to take the place of exposition in several places and the novel felt stronger as a result. With nearly a year to wait until the next volume, The White-Luck Warrior, perhaps I can rest a bit before continuing this exhausting and yet enjoyable series.