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Excerpt from R. Scott Bakker's The White-Luck Warrior


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Regarding Bakker and Tolkien and his other literary and historical influences


What were some of the historical influences that went into the writing of the Prince of Nothing series?

The original idea way back in 1987 was to write something that combined the depth and grandeur of The Lord of the Rings with the intrigue and thematic sophistication of Dune, through a story modelled on Harold Lamb's narrative history of the First Crusade, Iron Men and Iron Saints. Now many, many things have changed since then, but under the layers the skeleton of this original plan still exists. I stole a lot of licks from Lamb, and I still find myself referencing him.

The other historical influences are more generalized or inchoate: historical readings on the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Mongols, Indians, Arabs, medieval Europeans - too many to keep track of actually. Then there's the period readings, which seem to stand out as more significant for some reason: Homer, Hesiod, Herodotus, Aristotle, Plato, Xenophon, Thucydides, Plotinus, Virgil, Tacitus, and bits and pieces of others.

You wrote a piece on SFF World recently giving your take on fantasy, focusing on the reader's perceived need to find "meaning" in a world that's been stripped of most meaning. Can you list some of the books/authors that have provided the most "meaning" for you?

Actually, it was back in 1999 when I submitted that piece, and though I largely stand by it, I think I would retreat from the strident tone I take. Society and culture are super-complex systems, which means that all theories regarding it are doomed to be underdetermined by the facts - to be interpretations.

In my writing, Tolkien obviously looms large, followed closely by Herbert. If it weren't for Dune, I sometimes think I would have never gone to university. In my life different writers, mostly philosophers, have been important at different times - the kind of stuff you might expect from an egghead. Derrida in the early days - I spent several years as a 'branch Derridean,' irritating professors and classmates alike with my clever deconstructive turns of thought. Then came Heidegger, and to a lesser extent, Nietzsche and Hegel. Then came Wittgenstein and Adorno. But lately, everything seems to be dominated by Kellhus...

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You won't know if you don't try. Question about the books themselves are the most interesting. It's not like we still need to know where he writes, what his daily routine is, what his influences are, or what themes he is trying to convey. All of that stuff has been covered already in previous interviews.

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Obvious troll is obvious. :lol:

I suggest checking out the thread in GC a while back on throwing around the 'troll' label incorrectly.

I wasn't aware Bakker had directly stated Tolkien was an influence on his work, and thus called it into question. Since I see from an interview that he did, I'm not going to argue it since Bakker knows his work far better than I ever could.

Though I still don't honestly see that many similarities, so have to wonder if Bakker means influence in the sense that it got him into fantasy, and influenced the genre as a whole, more than it actively influencing any of his plotting, prose, characterization, or worldbuilding, which are pretty damned different from everything in LoTR.

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My take from what I've read and heard is that Bakker would probably say that he thinks of Tolkien as the starting point for the generic form of fantasy and that most of fantasy is derived from Tolkien in that sense. So he deliberately starts with that form in mind, but then throws in all of his own stuff to dramatically alter it.

Makes sense, and I can certainly agree with that.

Dune feels like the biggest direct influence on the series out of the genre to me.

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More questions:

Do the Inchoroi enjoy music? Can Aurang and Aurax play any instruments?

This question isn't really a spoiler since people who haven't read WLW obviously know the two main candidates for Cleric are Nin'janjin and Nil'Giccas but I'll spoiler tag it anyway.

Are Nil'Giccas and Nin'janjin the same person?

Are Humans native to Bakkerworld? Are the Inchoroi actually Earth-human? (they use the words Bios and Tekne after all)

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I'm not disagreeing that there are zero Tolkien homages; Moria is pretty clear-cut, and if Bakker myself said that there are more then I can hardly argue with the author himself, now can I? But if he didn't explicitly state Sranc and Nonmen were influenced by Tolkien then I see no reason to believe that they are.

WHO ARE YOU????? :ph34r:


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The fetor of brine and rot tugged vomit to the back of his throat. Surf crashed. Black waters heaved beneath a darkling sky. Terns hung like miracles in the distance.

No ... not here.

He knew this place well enough for terror to loosen his bowels. He gagged at the smell, covered his mouth and nose, turned to the fortifications ... He stood upon the top tier of a timber scaffold. Virtual shelves stacked on virtual shelves, filled with imagined books. A shroud of sagging hardcovers loomed over him, to the limits of his periphery, not quite real enough to be believed .


From the base of the walls to the battlements, wherever the fortress's ramparts faced the sea, countless thousands had been nailed across every surface: here an image of A Dance with Dragons shimmering on the wall, there a book with an infant on the cover, pinned through the mouth like a laurel. Stanek audiobooks. Fishing nets had been cast and fixed about them—to keep their rotting ligature intact, the Ent supposed. The netting sagged near the wall's base, bellied by an accumulation of pages. Innumerable terns and crows, even several gannets, darted and wheeled about the macabre jigsaw; it seemed he remembered them most of all.

The Happy Ent had dreamed of this place many times.

The Amazon Internet Bookstore.

He had captured the employees and tacked him to the wall to ponder the glory of Fangorn. The owner was suspended by nails through his thighs and forearms, naked save for the Oaken Collar about his throat. He seemed scarcely conscious.

The Ent was furious. His barken lips formed around the words spilling from his trunk.



A harrowing cry cut him short. He actually crouched, though he knew no harm could befall him, peered inthe direction of the sound. He gripped the bloodstained timber.On a different brace of scaffolding farther down the fortifications, a Huorn stooped over a thrashing shadow. Long green branches streamed from the fist-sized moles that pocked its massive frame. A vestigial face grimaced from each of its great and brutal cheeks. Without warning, it stood—each leg a huge trunk—and hoisted a pale figure over the heights: a man hanging from a nail as long as a spear. For a moment the wretch kicked air like a child drawn from the tub, then the Huorn thrust him against the husk of corpses. With his immense arms, the monstrosity began battering the nail, searching for unseen mortises. More cries pealed across the heights. The Huorn clacked its teeth in ecstasy, raised a second nail to the man's pelvis. The wails became raving shrieks.

The Happy Ent turned back to whoever it was who is responsible for shipping books from North America.

"Anguish," his deep, beautiful voice said, as close as a whisperin his ear. "Anguish and degradation," his voice resonant with inhuman tones. "Who would think that satisfaction could be found in these words?"

The Amazon guy raised his swollen gaze to the Entish Prince. "Has it progressed so far? Do you recall so little?"

"Recall? What do you mean…?"

"W-we sent," blood spilled from the bastard's mouth. "We sent the other book, didn't we?"

"An obscenity!" The Happy Ent spat. The nets flapped about the nailed corpses. To his right, near to where the wall curved out of sight, Achamian glimpsed a carrion arm waving back and forth, as though warning away unseen ships.

"Abercrombie. I can get that at the local book store. I'd have never ordered it with you, if not for the White Luck Warrior!"

With bone-crushing palms, the Happy Ent clenched the swindler's brow. He howled in voices not his own.

"Delayed! My order is delayed!"

The amazon guy could only gag an convulse.

"Next thing I'll have Dance in my hands before Bakker's!"

And the amazon guy howled…

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I've decided I can't wait for the book to ship from the bookdepository so i'm going to purchase the ebook in the meanwhile. Unfortunately I can't find it available for purchase anywhere...does anyone know where it might be available online?

It isn't, AFAIK. That's also why I haven't bought a copy yet. There will be a UK e-book (Kindle) version released on May 5, but I am not sure it will actually be available outside of the UK. (Any time I look at the amazon.co.uk page, I'm told the UK e-books are for UK residents only. Amazon.com doesn't appear to even offer the option, and I'm not sure whether any other e-book formats are available.)

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LoL! That was wonderful Ent, I so enjoyed reading that.

I wish I could say that I was sorry the order was delayed but that would be hypocritical. See, I issued a complaint about White Luck Warrior on amazon.com. I complained to their customer service that several copies of the book were incomplete, missing pages and all that, and as those of us in the know are aware that always leads Amazon to put all orders in hold. A nasty little tactic....

But actually, no, I didn't do that, and I am surprised to hear you get a message saying it is delayed because it now says on their site that the book is in stock and that I could have it on Tuesday if I ordered now. So I guess your book should be shipped very soon. But even that will not make up for it will it?

I myself on the other hand took delivery of this fine book on Friday. Lovely book, I like the cover, I like it's thickness, and the table of contents shows me lengthy chapters. On the other hand, the new map of the North that has been added adds pretty much nothing to the existing map of Earwa that is also in it.

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But actually, no, I didn't do that, and I am surprised to hear you get a message saying it is delayed because it now says on their site that the book is in stock and that I could have it on Tuesday if I ordered now.

I’m in Sweden and ordering from amazon.de. Normally that’s the quickest way. Now I’m looking at mid-May.

(Goes back to rehearsing Thawa Ligatures.)

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