[TGO Spoilers] Overall thoughts on the book?

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Odium

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« on: July 22, 2016, 02:18:01 pm »
Well, I just finished TGO twenty minutes ago. For me it was definitely a mixed bag. I thought that Bakker's writing was definitely at its nadir here - even though it's head and shoulders above most fantasy, and as rich with philosophy as always, he didn't manage to evoke the epic feel as well as he has in previous installments IMO. The exceptions there would be Ishterebinth and Akka's parts, with a few more sprinkled in the other threads. To focus first on the negative, I just thought that there was a lot of general... weirdness in Bakker's decisions about where he wanted to go with the series.

There will be rereads in the future to make sense of some of these points, but overall I would say I found these things incongruous:

(wasn't sure where to cut the spoiler so I decided to spoiler everything)

(click to show/hide)

Those are my thoughts in a nutshell. tl;dr: TGO was disappointing on its own legs but a decent appetizer before TUC. I think that the only thing I won't be able to forgive unless I see it righted in TUC is that my faith in the grand design of the series has been shaken. Before, so many loose ends seemed like promising attempts to foreshadow or at least imply other aspects of the narrative... but some of the events in this book made me wonder if that's really true or if I've fabricated a lot of that greater meaning, and the series is more one-dimensional than I expected.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2016, 02:21:23 pm by Odium »

Madness

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« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2016, 04:51:03 pm »
Lol - lots of thoughts, Odium :).

You didn't have to spoiler tag that, by the way.

A third book in a tetralogy has an uneviable position in discharging its own narrative - and there's just so much that happens in this volume that relies on the pieces scattered through the series entire but also specifically TJE and WLW. Not directed at you but anyone who went into this volume cold after five years did the story and themselves a disservice.
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Jackehehe

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« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2016, 06:25:47 am »
I have to say this is the first Bakker book that I have mixed feelings about, agreeing with much of what you said. I didn't have any issues with any individual scenes (I thought the Nuke was a pretty smart move; the Tekne is about invention rather than magic, right?). The exception to this would be Ishterebinth I guess, which I felt was way too long-winded and too abstract in its narrative. I actually found myself very nearly skipping some passages because it just felt that the story was in slow motion during those chapters.

Anyway apart from that what worries me the most is mainly the Momemn (and Meepa) storylines. So much space has been given in the books to tell us what is happening  there but for what reason? The only thing that really matters is what is happening in the north which, by the way, makes Kellhus appearance very hard to justify. Why does he care what happens there? Even if he did, how could it possibly warrant leaving the great ordeal? So basically, a lot of cool stuffs happen in Momemn but the events are tinted by the fact that as a reader I fail to see the significance of it.

Overall I liked the book though and I hope the issues I had largely depend on the book being cut in half!

Titan

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« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2016, 07:36:55 am »
I just finished the book - I had been avoiding the forum while I read.

My overall thoughts of the book is that it started REALLY strong. The Ishterebinth(?) opening in particular was stunning, probably Bakkers best writing yet. But around the half-way point the book looses steam, but finishes on a high note with The Cnauir encounter.

I'll add more thoughts tomorrow.

Viridius

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« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2016, 10:34:58 am »
I enjoyed the book very much; no complaints. I'd like to have seen more of Achamian's dreams.

I'm also interested in the significance of Momemn. That was an astounding set of coincidences in Chapter 16, which was the first chapter I re-read.  He has spent a lot of time setting up that whole piece; it was a bit of stretch but there must be  some kind of underlying logic to it.

There's so much going on there that it can't be irrelevant, so how does it tie up with events in the North? Kellhus' arrival at just the right moment like that... after grooming Proyas to lead the Great Ordeal... did he expect to never return? Did he get squashed by the prayer tower?
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Cosi

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« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2016, 01:21:48 pm »
Momemn does seem out of place, particularly with Kellhus showing back up to put a bow on it, so to speak. There's still some interesting stuff there. Notably, we have yet to get an explanation for Fanayal saying that Meppa "does not know who he is", which is an interestingly similar sentiment to the No-God's "what do you see". Also, whatever Ciphrang!Malowebi is doing and Kelmomas's relation to the gods.

My WAG is that it serves a similar function to the skin spies in PON. The primary antagonists in that trilogy were the Fanim, the Cisharum, or Moe depending on who you asked. But the skin spies were there as a pointer to the greater threat on the horizon (the Consult and the Second Apocalypse). Similarly, Psatma and the White-Luck Warrior are the beginnings of the conflict between Kellhus and the gods, presumably to be dealt with in the final trilogy (either exclusively or in tandem with Second Apocalypse).

Personally, my biggest complaint (mitigated by Tekne-Nuke) is that the Consult seems to be following a pretty simplistic and, to be frank, boring strategy. There's only so much "they killed a lot  of Sranc, but there were even more Sranc, so the Sranc killed some of them, then they went back to marching" that a man can take. I personally don't think questions about how did Kellhus do/know/find X are as problematic. He's had twenty years with the Metagnosis, and I expect we'll get a lot of answers about what he's been up to in TUC.

spacemost

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« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2016, 02:44:51 pm »
The endless sranc killing didn't bother me so much as I thought the emphasis was sufficiently on the psychological impact of the endless slaughter, and I liked how the supernatural is creeping in a bit more as they get closer to Golgotterath.

The only two gripes I have are Kelmomas and the Ishterebinth sections that focused on the descent down the well. Kelmomas is annoying the way Ramsay Snow Bolton was annoying in the last season of Game of Thrones -- I won't feel any happiness or schadenfreude when he dies, I'll just be glad to not have to read about him anymore. He reads like a stock sociopath/"evil" character from a less inspired novel series and I'm bored by him. And those aforementioned Ishterebinth sections just reminded me too much of Cil-Aujas, although I liked seeing more of nonman society and those anti-dunyain thralls they bred were a neat idea.

Also I'm annoyed that Theliopa was killed off. I thought she was neat.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2016, 02:48:28 pm by spacemost »

Simas Polchias

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« Reply #7 on: July 23, 2016, 04:43:45 pm »
and those anti-dunyain thralls they bred
Could you elaborate, please? It's about emwame servile behaviour or there is something else I've completely missed? Thanks in advance!

spacemost

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« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2016, 05:03:44 pm »
and those anti-dunyain thralls they bred
Could you elaborate, please? It's about emwame servile behaviour or there is something else I've completely missed? Thanks in advance!
"anti-dunyain" was a poor choice of words, I think. I just meant that on the one hand you have the Dunyain who, through selective breeding, have advanced their intellect and physical abilities to superhuman levels, while on the other you have the Emwame, who I think were also deliberately bred, who are squat, servile and stupid.

MisterGuyMan

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« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2016, 05:51:16 pm »
I thought it was a great book and the best of the middle series so far.  Judging Eye was the weakest but it was mostly setting up the Bejunka pieces so that's understandable.  Judging Eye was good but it still seemed like the pieces were travelling to their respective plot points.  There was definite sense of buildup though and it left me wanting more.  The Great Ordeal though finally let each of the main plot threads reach satisfactory resolutions.  All that buildup from the last two books found some release and I couldn't get enough.

Odium

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« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2016, 10:00:57 pm »
Responses in this thread and elsewhere have done their job of softening a few of TGO's rough edges for me - Oinaral as a deliberate sacrifice to use the trauma of his murder as a way of clearing his father's thoughts for one last heroic duty, for example.  I agree with you, Viridius. A little more extrapolation on Achamian's dreams would have been nice. Especially after Mimara's in-universe revelation that is context rather than content that matters in their analysis. Considering they didn't appear much throughout this book, it almost leads me to believe that it was a hint meant to help us in unpacking some of the series' less obvious symbolism.

Wilshire

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« Reply #11 on: September 20, 2016, 03:37:02 pm »
I'd have to say I don't agree with much of your criticisms, Odium, but I can at least see where you're coming from.

For me, my main issue with TGO was the length. Looking back at the series, and at offhand comments from Bakker sprinkled around, its as though a more massive story exists, and has in-fact been written down in whole or as scattered notes through the decades of his writing. There is  more lore to be had, and I feel as though Overlook has been pushing for shorter books.

Same goes for TGO. After reading the likes of Malazan, I can see now no substantial reason for splitting books other than publisher preference - and who cares about them ;) . Granted, I don't think the story will suffer overall from the publication of TGO and TUC as separate books. Its really just the tens of us around the internet that are actively engaged with the story in situ that will feel that sting.
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Truth Shines

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« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2016, 05:33:44 am »
Just finished the book 5 minutes ago....  Ehrrmagerd!  ;)  Mind, totally blown!

I'm very surprised to hear that Odium thinks this is a nadir of Mr. Bakker's writing.  In terms of sheer creativity, I feel like this is really a peak.  The grasping darkness of Ishterebinth, the sense of impending doom at Dagliash, the faded screams in the memories of the thousand-thousand halls of Ishual...  Those are just absolutely dazzling creations that had me swooning.  Also, I feel like I can just flip to any open page and find at least one of those absolutely inimitable Bakkeresque similes (for example, describing a sense of tension like someone testing his thumb against the edge of a knife).

Like MisterGuyMan, I also think that this is clearly the strongest of the second trilogy.  Even the character that I hated the most, Kelmomas, has been improved here -- now through his eyes, we finally got a direct look at the Narindar.  In the previous two volumes, I always found his perspective to be tedious and uninteresting  -- who cares about his little psychosis when the world is at stake far to the north, with the Kellhus, with Akka?  Now at least he can describe something truly interesting -- another glimpse of the otherworldly (the "white luck"), which Bakker just seems to have an uncanny gift for crafting.

Overall, I'm very satisfied with the book and will most definitely be re-reading it.  It's not quite as good as the Prince of Nothing trilogy.  But then again, that's just not a fair standard of comparison. 

Titan

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« Reply #13 on: September 25, 2016, 10:49:53 pm »
I'm very surprised to hear that Odium thinks this is a nadir of Mr. Bakker's writing.  In terms of sheer creativity, I feel like this is really a peak.  The grasping darkness of Ishterebinth, the sense of impending doom at Dagliash, the faded screams in the memories of the thousand-thousand halls of Ishual...  Those are just absolutely dazzling creations that had me swooning.

Indeed, those are the strongest parts of the 2nd trilogy. Bakker's best writing so far, IMO.

But... My main issue with TGO is that all those three parts are front-loaded in the beginning of the book - so end never quite reaches the height of the beginning. But this is likely a problem caused by the split of TGO and TUC. But it is a small nitpick nonetheless.

Wilshire

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« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2016, 04:05:53 pm »
Overall, I'm very satisfied with the book and will most definitely be re-reading it.  It's not quite as good as the Prince of Nothing trilogy.  But then again, that's just not a fair standard of comparison. 

Glad you liked it! I thought it was pretty incredible as well.

Out of curiosity, what makes it not comparable to PoN?
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