Chris Bunch – The Seer King

No less than 12 years ago I first read a book by Chris Bunch. This was The Far Kingdoms (1985). It was a nice book, but not overly impressive. The main reason I didn’t pick up another work by him was simply because I didn’t notice any for a long time. Recently I found a trilogy by him at the local second hand book store and I decided to give him another try. The Far Kingdoms hadn’t been bad and a fairly decent read. Usually authors don’t go worse if the level hasn’t been that high (but there are some exceptions to the rule) , so I bought The Seer King (1997), the first book of the same titled (or untitled) trilogy.

The Seer King is not a particular mainstream fantasy, but it can be put in a more simpler mainstream subgenre where a mediaevil world also has magic and demons without there being a more complex layered background. This is a fairly straightforward story and although one will not be able to predict which forks the story will take, it will be quite clear how it will evolve. Because of this the story will have to gain more from its characters and prose to make a stand. Unfortunately those remain just as average.

There are basically two main characters and several side character who don’t really become three-dimensional. The second main character also doesn’t get much to develop himself as the story is told from a first-person point of view. This means the story is mainly carried by that person. In my opinion it was a bad choice to use a first-person point of view and even more to use this main character. The main character is a cavalry officer with no particular skills or intelligence. Bunch actually manages to portray him quite well, but that is also the downside of it. When using the first-person point-of-view one has to make sure he is able to tell an engaging story, but the prose is just as average as the character. Without using this point of view Bunch could have switched between characters and deepened them more or have focused on a better prose.  Another let-down is that the main character likes to refer to events to come in the future. Although this spoiling is minor, it does not help an already straightforward story.

One last point of criticism is that for a first-person point of view in which a main characters talks about the events of his past, he seems to spend a fair amount of time on explicit sex scenes which do not add much to the story. They became so repetitive that I started to glance over them later on.

Even with all this critique of mine this is still a decent book. It’s not particularly exciting but it still takes you to a different world which is not really unique but interesting enough. One will still want to know how events will unfold and where the story will end. This because the main character telling about himself is imprisoned at the beginning of the book and surely will play another role in the last book (I hope). This setup reminded me of Dan Simmon‘s novel Endymion (written before The Seer King), which was a far better book. In fantasy and SF similarities will always exist so it’s not something that bothers me.

I don’t really recommend this novel, but it is no book you should ignore either. A good one for vacations or travelling or just some easy reading.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.