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The Darkness that Comes Before: The Prince of Nothing, Book One Paperback – September 2, 2008
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Bakker does not treat his reader delicately. Very little in the book is simplified or overexplained. Those looking for a book with introductions and pages of explorative narration would best turn elsewhere; Eärwa is on the verge of an Apocalypse, it has no time to accommodate the reader.
Bakker himself has admitted the book is almost meant to be twice read and that if he could do things differently, he would have offered more chapters for the reader to associate themselves with Kellhus, the central figure the trilogy revolves around.
Despite the complexity and shadows thrown long across the narrative, Bakker is a deft hand at bringing personal feelings and drama through the mouths and minds of his characters.
If you're willing to check the appendix and maps on occasion, you'll find yourself quickly immersed in this wild and wondrous world.
Darkness shares with some of those other works the same highlights and lowlights. The plot is complex enough to remain stimulating throughout and the shift in point-of-view offer up a more interesting story while allowing more in-depth characterization. Bakker handles the narrative shifts smoothly and has a good sense of when it's time to leave one character for another. The characters are also nicely balanced in terms of interest so that there is no drop-off for the reader as we move along. The same is true, mostly, for the various storylines, though some are more compelling and better paced than others.
The negatives, while not outweighing the positives, are a noticeable drag however. Because the book must recount history over the course of several thousand years and set up the reader for the coming conflict, there is a lot of exposition that must be handed out. It is rarely done in clumsy or uninteresting fashion (a few places here and there), but so much information does slow the book now and then. The number of characters also sometimes serves to dilute their individual impact.Read more ›
Plot: The story of The Darkness that Comes Before is not easily summed up. There are many factions both political and religious, and many characters including princes, mages, warriors and a prostitute, all of whom get wrapped up in the preparations of a Crusades-like Holy War to capture the holy city of Shimeh. Comparisons between the actual Crusades and the attempt to capture Jerusalem are hard to ignore, although Bakker doesn't seem to be making any allegorical statements; rather, he uses history as a reference and blueprint, including mention of the Holy Shriah, who could be compared to the Pope. Meanwhile, there is a "barbarian" named Cnair Urs Skiotha who becomes the last of the Utemot tribe after he is betrayed in battle, and he decides to seek revenge on the man he feels responsible, the father of a mysterious wanderer named Kellhus, who, through powers of psychological observation and a philosophy that "what comes before determines what comes after" (apparently this guy never heard of Jean Paul Sartre), can manipulate people's thoughts and passions to benefit his own purposes.
Scott Bakker proves himself a master of the English language and writes in a superb, poetic style that is never overbearing or pretentious. His style relies on short sentences that never become too convoluted or distracting, and some quite brilliant and original uses of metaphor. I found myself enjoying many of his descriptive passages, though infrequent, and his battle scenes are fast-paced and thrilling (I only wished there were more of these). The plot is interesting overall; keeps you guessing and avoids many overused clichés.Read more ›
All of the usual superlatives apply. Simply put, TDTCB is incredible, and any fan of epic or high fantasy should already have it on order. Bakker is an expert craftsman...his world is rich and believable, the characters godlike, and the plot constantly engaging and in motion. Toss in the requisite humor, flawed leads, sex and betrayal, and a true gem emerges from the fantasy morass.
Brief plot summary annotated from the book sleeve: Two thousand years have passed since Mog-Pharau, the No-God, last walked among Men. Now the Shriah of the Thousand Temples has declared Holy War, and untold thousands gather, determined to wrest Shimeh, the Holy City of the Latter Prophet, from the hands of their heathen kin. Among them, one man stands apart, a man who uses redemption to deceive, and passion to elevate and enslave... Anasurimbor Kellhus. Two couples, a barbarian chieftain and his concubine, a sorcerer and his harlot lover, share his trials and tribulations, each compelled by what they think they see: the possibility vengeance, the promise of redemption, the threat of apocalypse, or the hope of escape. As the violent fortunes of the Holy War transform Kellhus into an all-conquering prophet, they finally begin to ask: What is he really?
References have been made to Tolkein, but this novel is far more postmodern and machiavellian than LoTR.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Many authors over the history of SFF, but especially the last half century, have attempted the saga, a narrative epic stretched across many volumes of books. Read morePublished 11 days ago by Mike Hillcoat
At the beginning, this book really confused me. The author launches into his characters and settings straight away, and the reader has to follow along and somehow work it all out... Read morePublished 23 days ago by Susie Suey
The first 150 pages or so were a little tough for me to get used to Bakker's language, and I had to constantly flip to the appendix to keep track of names and places.... Read morePublished 1 month ago by brhino
I was honestly a little reluctant to begin this series because of the negative feedback I had seen. However, the description of the book itself compelled me to give it a go. Read morePublished 1 month ago by gmeyers
A good start of a new saga. The second book is even better, the third one is baad.Published 1 month ago by popivan
I haven't written a review on here for a while, but was compelled to do so after seeing how insignificant this series appears to be on many of the social media fantasy book lists... Read morePublished 1 month ago by dj_wacker
The first volume of the best fantasy series I've ever read.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
This book is frustrating in a brilliant way for the most part. There are multiple times where I wish it would just be more straight forward but then it wouldn't be what it is. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Michael G. Mclendon