The Darkness that Comes Before (Prince of Nothing Series #1)

( 76 )

Overview

Strikingly original in its conception, ambitious in scope, with characters engrossingly and vividly drawn, the first book in R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing series creates a remarkable world from whole cloth—it's language and classes of people, its cities, religions, mysteries, taboos, and rituals—the kind of all-embracing universe that has thrilled readers of Stephen R Donaldson and George R.R. Martin.
It's a world scarred by an acopalyptic past, evoking a time both two ...
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Overview

Strikingly original in its conception, ambitious in scope, with characters engrossingly and vividly drawn, the first book in R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing series creates a remarkable world from whole cloth—it's language and classes of people, its cities, religions, mysteries, taboos, and rituals—the kind of all-embracing universe that has thrilled readers of Stephen R Donaldson and George R.R. Martin.
It's a world scarred by an acopalyptic past, evoking a time both two thousand years past and two thousand years into the future, as untold thousands gather for a crusade. Travelling among them, two men and two women are ensnared by a mysterious traveler, Anasurimbor Kellhus—part warrior, part philosopher, part sorcerous, charismatic presence—from lands long thought dead. The Darkness that Comes Before is a history of this great holy war, and like all histories, the survivors write its conclusion.
With this stunning debut, R. Scott Bakker is poised to become one of the next great fantasy writers of his generation. The Darkness that Comes Before proves again that epic fantasy can be intelligent, majestic, and terrifying.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590201183
  • Publisher: Overlook Press, The
  • Publication date: 9/2/2008
  • Series: Prince of Nothing Series , #1
  • Pages: 608
  • Sales rank: 156,211
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 76 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(38)

4 Star

(16)

3 Star

(8)

2 Star

(6)

1 Star

(8)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 76 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2006

    hubristic build up to a whole lot of nothing

    I must say I was intrigued at the onset of this novel. It did not possess a prologue filled with chaff and a meandering introduction into Bakker's world. We are presented with what should have been our proximal main character from the start and his subsequent venture out into the unknown world held promise. But then Bakker completely betrayed us with chapter after chapter of dross. It took another 300 or more pages to revisit our assumed hero, and the intervening pages were skimmable if not entirely skippable and unworthy of being read. Bakker appears so inflated of his own story's gravity and self-importance I could hardly take the plot seriously. His over-large cast of characters dilutes his potentially powerful prose and inhibits us from identifying with or even merely liking any of them. I was galled to find his stories brooking comparison with Martin's Song of Ice and Fire. You may as well compare a tabloid journalist who poses as a refined author to a true master of literature. My advice, if you are searching for fantasy full of war and passion, don't bother with Bakker.

    6 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2012

    So I totally got this because of the negative review below that

    So I totally got this because of the negative review below that said it's the dirtiest book ever. It's SO not. Though there are a few sex scenes (not nearly as many as the reviewer implied, even allowing for the expectation of exaggeration in a review like that one) they're not prolonged or gratuitous. They're straightforward, not written erotically.

    That said, I found the story compelling. I enjoyed the sweeping story, and the politics of the Holy War. The characters were interesting, but none of them were actually LIKEABLE, except maybe Achamian.

    It's a fun read, and will keep you occupied, but ultimately I don't really care whether the characters survive or not.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 16, 2009

    Not your typically styled fantasy story

    The story has more of a middle-east/asia feel. No elves, dwarves, or orcs. Military strategy, political machinations, religious conflicts, and sorcery are the key elements in this page-turner.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2009

    The beginning of an amazing trilogy

    This was a book that I actually picked up based off of the cover (the hardback version). I remember seeing it on the bookshelf and being drawn to the strange writings on the black cover. When I read the description I was curious, but still I was more curious about the artwork.

    I've never reviewed a book before, but feel that this book deserves to have more word of mouth out about it than what currently exists. I don't feel I need to summarize the book since you can just read descriptions on this website, I'll just give some of my overall feelings on it and the world and the characters.

    The world Bakker has created is IMMENSE, and yes, the capitol letters are completely necessary. You see how immense it is in the first two books, but it is not until the third book, when you finally get to see an appendix that rivals Tolkien to see just how huge and detailed Bakker's world really is. After the final page of the third book you realize that you've only just scratched the surface and it's a great feeling because you cannot wait to find out more (and thankfully Bakker is supplying us with more, another trilogy, The Aspect-Emporor, and possibly a duology or another trilogy for The Book That-Shall-Not-Be-Named.).

    The writing is challenging, and I will say at times it stumbles trying to get the ideas across, but the ideas are worth it. The book is incredibly re-readable and almost demands to be read multiple times.

    As I re-read the series recently I read Kellhus' chapters in a completely new light. It's as if the author wants us to question everything he's written. Do the characters really feel this way? Do they really believe what they say or are they just using lies to manipulate? For those of you familiar with Kellhus you'll understand what I'm saying.

    Simply Kellhus may be my favorite character in literature.

    Wait until you see how Bakker explains magic in his world (explained in the appendix of The Thousandfold Thought). It's one of my favorite thing about the series.

    Another great thing about the book is the brutal realism of it. People have complained about the misogynistic aspects of the story. To them I say, finish the series. But also, think that maybe the women are portrayed this way because historically that's how women are repeatedly treated. It's not a good thing, but it's a truth that the author forces us to face and question. Aren't the best pieces of art those that force us to think and question and/or reaffirm ourselves and our beliefs? If so, then this book does that in spades and a large part of that comes from tackling these issues that offend so many. Again, I digress in what is already just random thoughts.

    If you like historical books, you'll enjoy this. It's written incredibly well like a historical novel, especially particular sections written from an omniscient viewpoint. The armor/weapons, cultures, clothes, etc will remind many history buffs of Sumeria, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Persia, etc.

    If you are philosophy buff, well then you are in for a treat. Issues of free will, nihilism, religion, memes, etc are touched upon (the author has a doctorate in philosophy). Again, it's not always light reading, but again, the best art is that which makes us think.

    Please, pick up this series and give it a chance. If for nothing else, pick it up for that amazing cover art.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 8, 2009

    Very original series

    With a unique story and writing style, Bakker introduces not only a fantastic plot, but subtle elements of psychology and philosophy. Although it is fantasy, in that his world is unique and original, many elements (excluding sorcery, of course) are based very much on the real world and cultures. He introduces some philosophy of why we, as people and societies, do what we do, within his story and characters, making for a very unique and unforgettable reading experience.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2006

    MUST read for all fantasy fans!

    One of the freshest and most original concepts for the fantasy genre in years. From the beginning you are drawn into a world not only filled with magic, but one that is rife with political intrigue and religious themes. The characters are powerful and captivating, and the story has you flicking through pages like a lunatic. This is one of the few books I've ever picked up and not put down until it was finished. Absolutely riveting!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2005

    Compelling

    The story telling here is extremely engaging and interesting if not, aside from a well realized cast of people places and things, wholly original. I was amazed at the pace I found myself finishing this quite long novel. I found most interesting that I often lost sight of which side of Bakker's fleshed out characters to be on, while a few are less realized than others. Based in a complicated, presumably ancient but real feeling world, with elements from real historical cultures (Greek, Turks, Ottoman, Romans etc.) and with mutated ideas from other fantasy writers the story remains intelligent and layered enough to keep it's reader quite interested. After becoming accustomed to the initially frustrating foreign names of people, places and things (some being useless to the tale to the point of distraction), it's quite an intriguing and ADULT tale of deception on the grandest of scales, by, and of sorcerers, saviors, soldiers and society who are gathering for a brewing Storm of Holy War. Bakker should be discovered. I immediately bought the second novel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2014

    Really?

    I am on page 164 and am going to look for some other book to read. There has not been any action yet. It's all psychological babble. Scorcers? There has not been any spells cast, no battles.
    Boring is the word that comes to mind. Don't waste your time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2013

    Just another author who thinks that by "over using" im

    Just another author who thinks that by "over using" imaginary (tongue twister) names for people and places it some how makes the book a better read... NOT!!! He also grossly "over develops" said people & places!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2013

    Great.

    Dark, moody, poetic, and violent.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2012

    Too stressful

    I love complex plots with many characters and new worlds places,politics,religions etc. This book has a lot of potential and the characters are interesting. The book,however, is a stressful read. I found myself having to re read many pages and sentences. Maybe it is because I know a lot of the web of the story is presented in the first chapters so i wanted to grasp it all. One sentence often spanned an entire paragraph. The main characters were good and the ideas were interesting but the writing was just not there for me. I want to forget i am reading and be taken into the story, not stressed out each paragraph making sure I got everything

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2012

    Excellent Read

    Nice, fresh concepts.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    A Dirty Series

    This has got to be the dirtiest book I have ever read, including textbooks on soil science. On almost every single other page, someone having sex. And this book does not discriminate. There is almost every type of sex in the three novels, from plain ole man and woman sex to bestiality (IE the bird's ministrations). It was like reading porn. Adherents will claim that all this raping and pillaging is necessary for historical accuracy. I would laugh. Yes, such events have occurred in this earth's histories. But who would enjoy reading and thereby living such acts again?
    For those who the never ending sex does not bother, the story itself is interesting to a point where it wallows in philosophical musings and never manages to free itself (IE the second book).
    Aside from the sex, I admire the cultures the author has created. He manages to give each culture depth and plausibility, and builds an epic world quite well. The religious aspect was very well crafted. Aside from the sex and violence I do not think Christians would be very offended by what they would find, I think Muslims might be perhaps, but due to the terminology used.
    Character wise, most of the characters are very sexually active, and aside from their constant orgasms they seems they have some development. Only two are potentially noteworthy, Cunair and Kellus. The prose is readable, nothing soul stirring but it tells the story adequately.

    If you are the type of person who can ignore the sex, and can handle the tedious musings (and probably enjoy both), this book will interest you. All others, please stay away.

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2010

    Falls Short

    A great premise for a book that ultimately disappoints. Bakker creates a very interesting worlld, but there are so many names of places, nations, people, religions, and religious figures that its hard to understand whats going on. There are lots of interesting characters, but I cared little for any of them. The plot is slow and often sidetracked by really strange romance novel style scenes.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Masterpiece

    The begaining of this series/book takes a little patience at first, as the author takes you into the world and plot of the story. You will learn different factions/schools and people's. It's a very good thing that there is a glossary. Once you are able to digest the groups and schools, along with all the other important information, you will enjoy R.S Bakkers masterpiece. A truly well written and thought out plot. The characters are large and interesting. The places and factions are described with such detail, allowing you to grow with the story. The only hard time I had, was with the pronounciation of names and places.
    The main point of the story is about a Holy War, and the many different groups that face or oppose it. The Scarlet Spires, The Consult, The Empire, The Mandate and the tusk, All waging war for power and thier gods. Again, Take your time with reading and getting to know the people and factions. You will enjoy it. I promise.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2007

    Swept Away

    I picked this book up in a used book store on a whim, really based on the cover art and the blurb on the back. When I picked it up, I was blown away. Few writers can incorporate an allegorical theme and still have a story that holds its own as its own. Bakker did that phenomenally well. The first few chapters are a little odd, leaving the average reader to wonder where it's going, but it does get there and do so amazingly. The story revolves around several individuals, all coming together in what becomes a holy war. But is it just another war between zealots, or is it the first battle of the second apocalypse? This book not only explores the politics of its own world but also serves as a dark mirror for many of the actions of our own. Pick up this book--you won't put it down until you've hit the glossary.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2006

    Slow Start with big payoff

    Initially I trudged through the first few chapters slightly confused while assimilating into Bakkers world. However it payed off nicely as the pace quicly picked up. Excellent character developement, compeling character relationships and some political intrigue for good measure. Battle scenes are explicit and large scale. Bakker gives us both the larger strategy of the battles and the smaller, gritty man to man struggles. The only draw back is the initial assimilation into this new world and keeping all the names, races, schools and factions organized due to the irregular names. I found myself flipping back pages alot to get them straight. There is a glossary in the back of the book that helps some what. It is overall an excellent read with non-typical fantasy cliche's that have caused me to shy away from the genre in the past.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2005

    Today's New Masterpeice

    After reading this author's first novel, I am completely blown away. The complexity with which he weaves this world is insane. There are no cliches in his character development, which is hard found in fantasy these days. I also agree that any fantasy novel worth its salt needs a great map and character legend. I found myself engrossed in learning the lineage and schools with which each character was associated. I would reccommend this book to anyone, not just fantasy lovers.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2005

    Epic Amazement

    Bakker has successfully woven his characters together as only done in undeniable masterpeices. This first book of the set screams to made into a multi - million blockbuster, as every situation, from the mundane to the mind-blowing, leaves you tongue in cheek. This book sets the stage for an immense Holy war which is led by humans with the sorcerors. The world Bakker weaves would not be done justice in a few of my own sentences here. Let's just say I feel as though I was actually there, and feel as though I was both the barbarian and the whore. I would recommend this novel to anyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2005

    A Woven Tapestry of Words,Colors, and Thoughts

    I knew from the cover that this was a special book, a unique novel of fantasy that would be unlike any other. And I wasn't disappointed. the cover art alone was worth it. So refreshing to see a fantasy without the usual tepid artwork, that usually looks a step above that of a cheesy romance novel. Not since the original cover of Goodkinds 'Wizards First Rule' have I seen a fantasy that sought to engage the reader visually at first sight. This debut is brilliant on the inside as well. Its world and characters very well written, and fleshed out fully. At times it almost feels as if it is a play on the stage, at other times it feels as if the author himself has narrated it for your ears alone. It is deep, you have to pay attention, it can be confusing, but glorious. When I saw the second book in the series was coming out I felt a thrill up my spine. These books feel like something special, something like the leather collectors editions of the Lord of the Rings, and the Hobbit. I remember the first time i picked up the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and this felt no different. This author has a gift, simply put. And i feel no good fantasy is complete without maps, and a list of the cast of characters. I can look at a good map forever. I can't recommend this book, and its follow up, 'The Warrior Prophet' enough, they are gorgeous, magical, and fabulous. cyd connor

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