"The Warrior Prophet" is the sequel to "The Darkness That Comes Before" and left me gasping for breath. Sure there are a few talky sections where Bakker's status as a philosophy PhD candidate shines through but they're worth working through. His characters possess complex and believable psychologies and act based on them. They don't act like plot puppets you might find in a Terry Brooks' story.
Alongside the conversations are huge battles, assassinations and overwhelming displays of magic power. These are described in often beautiful prose and with a sense of true potency. One school of wizards have to summon the likenesses of great dragon heads in order to bathe their opponents with flames. There is an ancient evil disguised as a small black bird with a pale human face. The feeling for a world of empires built atop the bones of long lost greater empires equals Tolkien's portrayal of that abyss of time and back story. Bakker has created some spectacular examples of genre writing.
The book is a fascinating exploration of faith, tradition, reason and power set in an original but still recognizable fantasy setting. Without aping the psuedo-North European tropes of too much fantasy Bakker still manages to work his story into a tapestry with clear elements of the Crusades, Byzantium and the Arabic Caliphate as threads. The resultant world feels both original and familiar.
"The Warrior Prophet" follows the Holy War called in "The Darkness That Comes Before" as it lumbers south towards the Holy City of Shimeh. Numerous forces, all with different agendas, most in conflict with everyone else's, begin taking over events and turning the Holy War into something no one predicts.
Bakker is an intriguing new writer and if you have any interest in what epic fantasy has the potential to be then you really need to check these books out.