I have a confession to make: I’m allergic to Christmas. Whilst I get that it’s a major holiday in our culture, I just don’t enjoy it. In fact, my dislike is strong enough that I spend most of the Christmas week fantasising about being at work – this is literally the only time in my year when that happens!
Anyway, I seem to have developed a very odd coping mechanism for dealing with Christmas overload: I seek out the most messed-up, bleak, dystopian books I can find, and read them obsessively. It sounds – and is – bizarre, but the strategy does actually work.
R Scott Bakker’s Prince of Nothing trilogy got me through Christmas 2014.
This trilogy is a challenging reading experience. The best comparison I can think of is to some of darker-themed Sabaton albums – powerfully-performed, musically-impeccable but also rather dissonant! (I’m going to put a trigger warning on this review, as this series does have some very, very dark moments. If something could be triggery, it’s probably in here.)
If you took one part Warhammer 40K, one part Thomas Covenant, a sprinkling of Tolkien, maybe a dash or two of Mage: The Ascension and Werewolf: The Apocalypse and a very healthy seasoning of ‘OMG WTF that’s horrible!’, you might just end up with something like this series.
Let me start my review with a quick summary of the situation at the start of the first book (also, the spoiler lamp is ON)…