The Thousandfold Thought


R. Scott Bakker


Science Fiction / Fantasy


Date Reviewed:

March 23, 2007

aybe a three star rating for this book is too harsh, I did enjoy reading this series, and I zipped through the 400 pages of story in this book fast enough. But as I write this review, I have just finished this reading the book, which is the last in the series, and I feel cheated. Bakker has left way too many loose ends! There is too much of the intricate plot that is simply left unresolved. I went to Amazon.com to check if there was a fourth book in this series, but apparently there is not (but even if Bakker does eventually write one, I won't read it. I feel betrayed. When an author starts a trilogy, there is an implicit promise to the reader that the entire tale will be told. Bakker fails to hold up his end of the bargain). I was literally stunned when I realized the novel was over. As I was turning the pages, I could tell there were only about 100 pages left in the book, and I wondered how Bakker would finish all of these intricate plot threads in so few pages - and then I turned the page: The End. The last 100 pages are actually a thick glossary, they aren't part of the story at all. The trilogy simply ends. What a disappointment!

Unfortunately, my lasting impression is that all of Bakker's hints of conspiracies and deeper meanings was all a fraud. Bakker set it all up, but didn't know how to resolve it. What about the Mandate Schoolmen - shouldn't they have appeared with a dramatic confrontation with Kellhus and/or Achamian? What about the Consult and the Second Apocalypse - are they thwarted, or not? That evil bird creature with the man's face - what is it's fate? Who summoned Kellhus if not his father (did I miss this explanation, was I reading too fast to find out what happened next?) What exactly again was the Thousandfold Thought? What about the big conspiracy of the Emperor and Conphas with the Fanim - it just vanishes? The story of Cnaiur didn't seem to finish either.

Bakker can paint vivid images. He does a great job describing the epic final battle of Shimeh; this book has some terrific battles of sorcery and mayhem, charges and counter-charges and last stands. Half of the characters get killed off. I wish Bakker had used the phrase "death came swirling down" a few less times. But Kellhus doesn't seem too concerned with the battle of Shimeh, he wanders off to visit dad (why can't that wait??) so the battle loses some of its dramatic sense of desperation - I had the feeling that the battle of Shimeh was just a cover for something grander, that Bakker would reveal a grander story line that had been hidden until the climax. But no, the battle of Shimeh IS the climax. Kellhus joins the battle in the end, suddenly transformed into superhuman (Kellhus had always been inhumanly skillful in battle, but now he becomes godlike, and thus a lot less interesting). If Kellhus just wanted to talk to his dad, why usurp the Holy War? It makes everything seem unnecessary. What about the Spear of Heron? What about the Nonman that confronted Kellhus at the beginning of book 1? Considering Maithanet's origins, why did he instigate the Holy War in the first place?

Despite the letdown at the finish, I still enjoyed the Thousandfold Thought until I reached the non-ending. This was a pretty good trilogy; Bakker displayed a wonderful imagination, he created a convincing and vivid world, populated it with a huge cast of characters and made you feel that it had a true sense of history. The powerful sorcerers were frightening and malovent, the skin spies were terrific in their wickedness. I liked a lot of characters, even the brutal Cnaiur. The pace of the story is relentless. If Bakker spent so long writing this series, (and he obviously did), I would have guessed he would have created a better resolution to all the plot threads.