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YMMV / Second Apocalypse

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  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Whether Kellhus is a hero or a villain is left a bit ambiguous, allowing the reader to make their own judgments.
  • Anti-Climax Boss: Several key examples in the story.
    • The confrontation between Kellhus and Moënghus, after having so much buildup in the first trilogy, is pretty anticlimactic.
    • In The Unholy Consult, Kellhus's battle against the Consult's leadership is pretty one-sided.
  • Complete Monster: Iskiak, better known by the name of "Aurang", prince of the Inchoroi and bad even by their standards, was one of the final Inchoroi after their wars with the inhuman Cûnoroi, or "Nonmen". Desiring to escape his own damnation, Aurang participated in the annihilation of entire worlds before the Inchoroi arrived on Earwa. At the end of the war with the Nonmen, Aurang assisted in giving them immortality, but also introduced a plague to kill every female of their species, leaving the Nonmen to look forward to nothing but eventual madness and extinction. Later forming the Consult, Aurang initiates the Apocalypse by unleashing the No-God. As the Horde-General of the Consult, Aurang takes the field, committing countless atrocities and massacring entire cities with his and his people's own creations the Sranc, beings so filled with lust and rage they can only interact with other species by killing and raping them to death. Aurang is also a Serial Rapist, boasting of this to Kellhus, and manipulates the Holy War to help bring about the deaths of all but a fraction of beings on Earwa to not only keep himself from hellfire, but to continue the monstrosity that damned him to begin with.
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  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: This series is unrelentingly dark and negative. Every character hates everybody else, they all live in a Crapsack World and there's no humor at all, not even of the gallows variety. After a while you wonder why you should care if any of these characters live or die. This is, appropriately enough, supported In-Universe, as almost every single named character (and most people, really) are damned to Hell upon their death. The only reason that Rooting for the Empire is avoided is because the Consult wants to end Damnation precisely because they're just that horrifyingly monstrous, and thus more than truly deserve it.
  • Epileptic Trees: Fan theories on the nature of the No-God can sometimes veer towards this, as well as many about Kellhus.
  • Foe Yay: Between Cnaiür and Kellhus and as well Cnaiür and Moënghus.
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  • Genius Bonus: All over the place. One has to be well-versed in all manner of philosophical schools, literature, Antique and Medieval history to understand all the esoteric references and allusions Bakker crams into the series.
  • Ho Yay: Moënghus and Cnaiür, which resulted in Cnaiür killing his father. This is the reason why there is latent Ho Yay between the adult Cnaiür and Kellhus, even though it's more like Foe Yay.
  • Iron Woobie: Cleric and Achamian.
  • It Was His Sled: It's hard to read the first trilogy without having accidentally encountered some details from the second series.
    • Mimara isn't actually dead. Esmi sold her into slavery and she becomes a main character.
    • The Inrithi win the Holy War by conquering Shimeh and Kellhus is declared Aspect-Emperor of the Three Seas.
    • The Hundred exist.
    • The Consult are working to escape damnation by exterminating enough ensouled humans in existence to seal away the Outside.
    • The Inchoroi and Dragons are aliens from a different world. The evil, dark "fortress" of the antagonists is actually their spaceship, impacted in the surface of Eärwa.
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  • Magnificent Bastard: Anasûrimbor Kellhus is a powerful Dûnyain monk who implants himself in the Holy War in opposition to the monstrous Consult. Scheming and manipulating all in his path, Kellhus engineers his own death and supposed rebirth to be seen as a great savior, eventually rising to utterly dominate the Three Seas as the powerful Aspect-Emperor and prepare the world to fight the Consult. Manipulating almost everyone he meets, Kellhus heads the Great Ordeal, a grand crusade to completely break the Consult and even allies with a deadly God to destroy their conspiracy for good, vowing to conquer even damnation itself.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "Ever are men deceived" is a canned expression used in fan parlance to refer to the series' existential themes. It's treated as a common phrase in the series, but only actually appears once.
    • The expression "death came swirling down" is used so often in almost every battle sequence that it reaches memetic levels.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • Seswatha's memories of the Apocalypse are literally Nightmare Fuel. The Mandate sorcerers dream it every night so they can never forget what it is they fight against. For example, Achamian once dreams of the fall of the city Sauglish. Grown men are dashing their babies' skulls against the street so the Sranc can't rape them to death and then rape the corpses. The Apocalypse is thirty-two years of Tear Jerker: Achamian virtually never refers to it without calling it "heartbreaking." Oh, and the No-God? His very existence is such that babies can't be born alive if he is. The eleven years of the No-God's existence were called "the Years of the Crib" because all babies were stillborn.
    • The epilogue of the second book, where the Inchoroi appear onstage, is the single most horrendous scene in this whole series, and that says a lot.
    • The experiments of the Dûnyain upon human captives. To learn how to manipulate people by reading their facial expressions, their young are taught "neuropuncture". In this process, living captives are strapped down and their faces dissected, so teenagers can experiment with their facial muscles. While they're still conscious.
    • The black halls of Cil-Aujas.
    • The view of damnation in the afterlife that we get from Mimara's Judging Eye in The White Luck Warrior.
    • Shaeönanra's backstory. Also, his present physical form.
    • The brief interlude of Kellhus travelling to the Outside is one of the most horrifying parts of the novels.
    • On a similar note, Saubon's death and damnation.
    • Most of the journey down to the Holy Deep of Ishterebinth is equal parts this and Nothing Is Scarier.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Rather humorously, the orange tabby cat is considered quite the memorable one-off character, despite only being a POV character for one page before being killed by the Wathi doll.
  • Squick:
    • The Inchoroi are a self-described "race of lovers", wholly obsessed with sexuality, sexual violence, and rape of all sorts. And it only gets worse from there on. As a reviewer aptly put it: "Scott Bakker's books are not dark and gritty. They're pitch-black and sticky."
    • Incest between Emperor Xerius and his mother — especially when she gets a teenage sex slave for him, and Xerius makes his mom stay and teach the girl how to "properly pleasure" him.
    • A scene where the Mother-Supreme of Yatwer's cult smears blood from her period in the faces of male worshipers, "a red line of hatred", after having sex with them.
  • Surprisingly Improved Sequel: The Warrior Prophet is where the series grows the beard.
  • Tear Jerker: Many examples. This is probably the most depressing well-known fantasy series.
    • Achamian is tortured by the Scarlet Spires. His best friend Xinemus, a religious man who is conflicted about his friendship with a "blasphemer", comes to the rescue. But the Scarlet Spires subdue him and torture him as well along with Achamian, gouging out his eyes. When Achamian escapes and finally returns to the war camp, Esmenet (the woman he loves) has left him for Kellhus. The saddest part was that she had sold herself into sexual slavery to return to Achamian in the first place.
    • The scene where the little orphan boys watch Maithanet's procession through the streets. It's depressing because one of them prostitutes himself because he's too scared to steal, and because orphans are not considered "real children". The scene ends with that boy being taken away by a slave trader.
    • Cleric and his fate. Achamian was forced to kill him, because Cleric (who was insane from amnesia) loved him and Mimara to the point where he tried to kill them, in order to remember them.
    • Kellhus' Great Ordeal starts running into this. The Ketyai of the South, seventy thousand strong and led by King Umrapathur II of Nilnamesh, are totally annihilated by the Sranc Horde and by attacking Bashrag, while the Grandmaster of the Vokalati goes insane and starts killing both soldiers and Sranc with his sorcery. The Grandmaster of the Mandate then has to kill him, causing a battle between the Mandati and the Vokalati even while tens of thousands of soldiers are being raped to death by the Sranc below. Umrapathur dies praying that the Great Ordeal will survive him, even as the Sranc begin violating him. When Kellhus finally arrives to rescue them, the sorcerers have survived but only "scant hundreds" of the soldiers on the ground still live. Holy shit.
    • The suicide of Koringhus. This is following his revelations of just how deeply the Dûnyain had strayed from the path of truth.
  • Uncanny Valley: Cleric. Like all Nonmen, he is tall and superhumanly beautiful, with marble-white skin. But there's something very "off" about him, which all characters note. His teeth are fused, his face has the same features as a Sranc, and his voice has the "tones of a deformed child woven into it."
  • Wangst: Achamian has this at first.
  • Woobie: Too many to count - almost everyone in the books has a Woobie moment at some point or another.
    • Achamian is the biggest one in the series, hands down.
    • Cleric who used to be the last Nonman king, Nil'giccas also qualifies as the most tragic character of them all.


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