Seventh Decimate – Stephen R. Donaldson

I was duly warned. Donaldson loves to write unlikable characters. He most certainly continues this trend in his latest book Seventh DecimateThe main character, Prince Bifalt, is completely and utterly infuriating at times. Funnily enough he reminded be rather too much of someone I know in the real world (I ain’t gonna name names) which isn’t really want you want to see in your fantasy heroes. Yet, when I closed the book after finishing the last page, I found that I actually liked the book. In fact I liked it quite a bit.

SeventhDecimate_Cover-Art.jpg

The cover art is awesome

Prince Bifalt is stupid, arrogant, ignorant, impulsive, belligerent, stubborn, conflicted, and… just… ridiculous! And he takes the all-time award for the worst fudgin’ diplomat ever. But he is also honorable, loyal, courageous, and strong. Most importantly though, he is well written, so you really feel you get to know him and the way his poor excuse for a brain operates. I like that.

The world-building is weak. The villages don’t have names, they are just called villages. You know nothing at all about the world the story is taking place in. You are given a couple of place names, there’s magic, some people have guns, and some don’t. That’s about all you get – I’m not even joking. Part of me wonders if this was done intentionally as later parts of the story give glimpses of a much larger and highly realized world. The story is also written from the perspective of a bunch of ignorant and clueless soldiers who know nothing about the world so I guess it makes sense that we as the reader know nothing and learn nothing. Prince Bifalt does a great job of learning as little as possible due to his personality as well.

The main thing I liked most about this book was the sense of mystery. You’re never quite sure what is going to happen next or what you will find out at the end of the journey. I won’t spoil these things for you now. Suffice to say that I found the ending to be very satisfying.

I recommend this book to those looking for something a bit different and don’t mind the main character being unlikable. As readers we do like our main characters to be relatable but every now and then an out-there one can be quite refreshing.

Have you read this? What did you think?

 

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21 thoughts on “Seventh Decimate – Stephen R. Donaldson

  1. Having read the first Cronicles of Thomas Covenant Omnibus I’m pretty used to him writing about unlikeable characters lol 😂😂This one sounds pretty good as well, and you are right, that cover looks very cool 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey, hey, glad to hear this worked out for you. I’ll obviously never read it, but hearing your thoughts on it was good enough for me 🙂

    Now I’m looking forward to how you end up thinking of Thomas Covenant!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Eh, I read multiple books, or I do when I have specific goals in mind. A work book, a “on my phone for emergencies” book, my kindle book, a theological book for Saturday.
        But, they don’t overlap and I’m guessing your reading is start/stop/start/stop with all the books going at once 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been eyeing the Chronicles for a while now – after your review I’m closer to actually taking them into my hands and giving them a try 😉 They’re usually the subject of very strong love/hate reactions and I was curious to hear a more nuanced opinion, even if about a different Donaldson book 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Uh, okay, thanks for that! I won’t read it, the main character sounds horrible! I like it when characters are more ‘real’ and have weaknesses as well, but I can’t stand it, if there’s nothing I can like about them. Also,it is sad that the author put so little effort in creating the world 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome 🙂 Yeah the main character is pretty unlikable in this one. I found I liked him as a character because of the writing and the way he fit into the overall story. Definitely could not deal with him in real life though haha.

      The world-building was definitely the biggest let down for me. One of the main reasons I read SFF is the world-building.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The only Donaldson I’ve read so far is “Mordant’s Need”, which also featured a number of unpleasant characters, but I loved it. I currently have the first Thomas Covenant book waiting to be read, and from what I’ve heard, I expect not to like a bunch of the characters in that one either. But I bet it’s good.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The poor world-building is exactly what really took away a lot of the “fun factor”. But man did I have a nice laugh at “the way his poor excuse for a brain operates” hahaahh That’s really how it was. I’d still like to read the sequel to see there was a purpose to this whole book’s style though. Glad you’re optimistic about this series. 😀 I also got to check out his famous series someday. That infamous protagonist of his has me super curious. Great review by the way!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I’m keen to read the sequel as well. I really want to find out what happens next and whether the world-building will start to kick in. Like you say, I can’t help but think there was a purpose in the way this first one was written.

      Liked by 1 person

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