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The Darkness That Comes Before (Prince of…

The Darkness That Comes Before (Prince of Nothing) (original 2004; edition 2005)

by R.Scott Bakker

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1,717394,134 (3.85)51
Title:The Darkness That Comes Before (Prince of Nothing)
Authors:R.Scott Bakker
Info:Orbit (2005), Edition: New edition, Paperback, 656 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Fantasy, Prince of Nothing, 999 challenge

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The Darkness That Comes Before by R. Scott Bakker (2004)


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English (35)  German (2)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (39)
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
Well, apparently I got over my sci-fi kick and finished this after all.

It's a big sprawling book, and as some of the other reviewers mention it has some fairly unlikeable central characters, but I found that part of it's charm. I also suspect the ones that others found sympathetic, are the ones I wanted to smack and vice versa. Esmi, for instance, is so annoying, Cnaiüs is fascinating, and I could have done with more Kellhus.

Although it switched POV fairly often, I think the number of pov characters was manageable, and it was clear who was speaking when. So the style didn't bug me as much as it sometimes does.

There's a lot of politics and conspiracies and plotting, and a lot of war. I found it interesting that although sorcery and it's use or not, is a major central plot of the world itself, it was rarely used in the books, making it much less of the deus ex machina that it can turn out to be, and making it much more dramatic when it does show up.

Overall, a solid winner, and very much looking forward to reading the rest of the series. ( )
  krazykiwi | Aug 22, 2016 |
At first I was put off by the sheer number of peoples and places and religions and gods and character names and details, details, details. There seemed to be nothing to hold onto. But gradually the main characters emerged from the chaos, and the chaos itself wrapped around me, pulling me into this holy war and forcing me to march along with it. Now, I’m looking forward to the battle, and hoping for victory over the Apocalypse that is taking shape in books two and three of this trilogy. This is not just barbarians and battle, it is more a metaphysical fantasy with parts that can send you wandering off following the ghosts of your own deep thoughts. Excellent! ( )
  drardavis | Aug 7, 2016 |
2/13 - I'm currently on page 216 and it doesn't seem to be "getting better" yet. It's not the verbosity that's bothering me, it's the utter lack of characterization, combined with the lack of visuals. I feel like I can neither 'see' nor 'know' any of these characters. They're simply ciphers moving about. Not only that - this is not one of my usual things to complain about, but out of a Cast Of Thousands, literally 3 women have appeared 'on-screen.' Two are literally whores, and the third is a harridan who is described as 'whorish.' I don't have a problem with reading about misogynistic societies, but it almost seems like women here simply don't exist!

2/14 - I nearly, nearly gave up on reading this last night, but decided to plow through just so I don't get castigated by the fanboys for reviewing a book I didn't finish. Now on page 432. Starting with Part 3, the book has improved a bit. The writing has become a bit smoother, some characters have begun to emerge, and a couple of women even get to have a POV. This was the author's first book, and I feel like I'm almost seeing him learn how to write fiction as I read. (I'm sure he's written plenty of academic papers; he definitely has a command of English - I'm actually pretty impressed that I'm reading an unrevised proof, and there's only been one typo so far ["sneak peak" instead of "sneak peek."] Not bad.) I'm still not won over; I feel like the first third of the book needs a serious revision/edit, but my current opinion is upgraded from one to two stars.

2/16 - Finished it yesterday. As I expected, it doesn't end on any sort of note of resolution; and I'm not feeling that motivated to go pick up the next volume. The various factions of military, magical and political forces in this vaguely-Babylonian world can go philosophize about their Holy War without me.

Incidentally, I noted that among the gushing praises on the back of this book are recommendations from both Steven Erikson and John Marco. I've tried both of those authors: John Marco was a did-not-finish, and Steven Erikson was a this-is-not-for-me. I actually find the quality and style of writing here to be similar to Erikson, and I would say I didn't like it for similar reasons. If you love Erikson (which many people do) you may very well like this series. But my final rating is hovering around one-and-a-half stars. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
The Darkness That Comes Before by Scott Bakker which is Book One of The Prince Of Nothing, and has so many long, unwieldy titles that I keep forgetting what they are. I did NOT want to get into another multivolume epic fantasy but someone pressed me to it, and, well, it's an odd one. Very well written, quite dense with history, religion, philosophy, it can be heavy going, but he actually handles the complex plots and the characters with a surprising deftness and clarity, while leaving lots of fairly important stuff quite murky. It's unlike Martin, inasmuch is often about the human failings and foibles and even whims that create history, whereas history here is all about titanic forces being manipulated with varying degrees of success by powerful people who are probably all sociopathic monsters willing to sacrifice thousands for their own ends. ( )
  Nigel_Quinlan | Oct 21, 2015 |
In this fantasy novel a holy war is initiated between two opposing factions, which several others are attempting to usurp for their own ends - lots of gray area here. Beneath the surface lies another, deeper level of events where an ancient evil may be pulling the strings to propitiate an apocalypse - very black vs white. The fantasy world is comprised of nations with lengthy histories, overlapped by religious factions and schools of sorcery. Its finest element is the Dunyain, a deeply introspective people that remind me of Tibetan monks.

This novel was riding in the 3.5 star range, but eventually its first novel jitters smoothed out to only the occasional hiccup and I learned to trust the author. It's a very engaging world, an interesting theme that recalls the real-life Crusades. Many of the characters are strongly outlined and interesting to read about, although I only genuinely liked Achamian. It's difficult to ignore the poor showing for women that others have commented on. I think the author said in an interview that the way women are treated has consequences for the rest of the trilogy, so I'll put my faith in that. [EDIT upon completing trilogy: trust the others.]

R. Scott Bakker is given to deep thoughts, evident in dialogue and the often overlong internal musings. I suspect there's a lot lurking here that philosophy majors are going to love, but it's not done so overtly that it will alienate everybody else. Meanwhile I wish he was stronger at showing this world than explaining it. There were a few scenes that ended with an aggravating summary instead of finishing the drama, as if the author grew bored just as it was getting good. I'll definitely pick up the next book to see what happens, but I hope this experience improved his style. ( )
1 vote Cecrow | May 25, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
R. Scott Bakkerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Rostant, LarryCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I shall never tire of underlining a concise little fact which these superstitious people are loath to admit -- namely, that a thought comes when "it" wants, not when "I" want ...
Friederich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
To Sharron - before you, I never dared hope
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(Prologue) One cannot raise walls against what has been forgotten.
All spies obssessed over their informants.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0143013742, Paperback)

Many centuries ago, the world was nearly destroyed by the dark wizards of the Consult, and the High King's family was wiped out--or so it seemed. Then from the wild, uncharted north comes a mysterious and extraordinarily powerful philosopher-warrior, Anasurimbor Kellhus, descendant of the ancient High Kings. But the return of the king's bloodline is little cause for rejoicing. For Kellhus's appearance may signal the overthrow of empires, the destruction of the sorcerous schools, the return of the Consult demons--and the end of the world.

The Darkness that Comes Before is a strong, impressive, deeply imagined debut novel. However, this first book of an epic fantasy series is not accessible; it reads like a later volume of a complicated ongoing series. Author R. Scott Bakker has created a world that is very different from J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth, yet in depth of development comes closer than most high-fantasy worlds. In addition to providing five appendices, Bakker attempts to make his complex world clear to readers by filling the prologue and opening chapters with the names of characters, gods, cities, tribes, nations, religions, factions, and sorcerous schools. For many readers, this approach will have the opposite effect of clarity. It's like demonstrating snowflake structure with a blizzard. --Cynthia Ward

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:57:50 -0400)

Two thousand years have passed since Mog-Pharau, the No-God, last walked among Men. Two thousand years have passed since the Apocalypse. In a world wrenched by holy war and devastation, a sorcerer, a concubine, and a warrior find themselves captivated by a mysterious traveller from lands long thought dead, a man who makes weapons of insight and revelation. Unable to distinguish the passion that elevates from the passion that enslaves, they fall ever deeper under his thrall, while what begins as a war of Men against Men threatens to become the first battle of the Second Apocalypse.… (more)

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