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The Darkness That Comes Before: Book 1 of the Prince of Nothing Paperback – 26 May 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; New Ed edition (26 May 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841494089
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841494081
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 3.9 x 17.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 66,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

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 JRR 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 sorcery 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.


"Intelligent" is a term trotted out so often by publishers that it has become almost worthless - which is hard for the likes of Bakker, whose [The Darkness That Comes Before] truly is intelligent, and original, and all those other overused words. (The Guardian)

The Darkness That Comes Before is a strikingly original work, the start of a series to watch. SF Site ('The publisher's hype compares [The Darkness That Comes Before] to The Lord of the Rings or Frank Herbert's Dune, and gratifyingly the hype is not misplaced. The characters are among the most memorable and well-portrayed I can think of in recent fantasy f)

George Walkley, Ottakar's (Outland) ('Bakker has created a gourmet feast for hungry fantasy readers, exquisitely prepared, carefully seasoned, and served with pomp and ceremony... The Darkness That Comes Before is truly a satisfying experience.')

Kevin J. Anderson, Bestselling author of Horizon Storms ('Exquisitely intelligent and beautifully written, R. Scott Bakker's first novel in The Prince of Nothing series inspires both confidence and anticipation--this is fantasy with muscle and brains, rife with intrigue and admirable depth of character, set in)

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Longbelly on 13 Aug 2005
Format: Paperback
Despite reading complaints regarding the highly detailed and complex world created by Bakker which stated his book was quite hard to get into i bought it because of the promise of a darker, more mature fantasy than normal. I was not disappointed. Bakkers writing and the world he creates have a depth and subtlety which are all to rare in the fantasy genre and the story/characters are as dark as anything those other masters , George R.R Martin and Steven Erikson, could hope to conjure. I hesitate to go into any great detail on the book itself for fear of introducing spoilers but suffice to say that the writer and book are of the very highest class and have even attracted deserved praise from the quality, literate papers such as the Guardian as well as his successful peers.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By J.Yasimoto on 12 Jan 2007
Format: Paperback
This is another one of those books that assaults you with so many cities, lands, names, factions, races, etc. that for the first couple of hundred pages you don't know your arse from your elbow, despite a couple of helpful appendices.

But stick with it because thankfully in the second half of the book everything settles down. All the major characters have been introduced and you get a far greater understanding of the world in which the story is set.

In style and content the writing is very similar to Steven Erikson. If you are a fan of the Malazan series of books you will enjoy this. Alternatively, if you enjoy this book and haven't read Steven Erikson, I suggest you check him out (first book: Gardens of the Moon).

This is a great fantasy book that manages to build a believable other world which has an unusual medieval Arabic flavour rather than the more common medieval European background. I would recommend it to all apart from younger readers who might struggle with the complexity.

Hope this review helps.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Neil J. Pearson on 27 Feb 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One of the most polished starts to a fantasy series I have read, Bakker uses excellent characterisation to ensure the backdrop of a second apocalypse is the culmination of the hopes and fears of dozens of central characters as opposed to said apocalypse being the driving force for said characterisation. The approach is definitely a more mature one and many characters are reprehensible and uncompromising, yet Bakker makes them likeable by showing that this is how his world operates. Fans of mystery will also be entertained as Bakker keeps many aspects of the mythology intentionally vague and open to interpretation - he doesn't spoon-feed you the plot at all.
If this is merely the calm before the storm, as is usually the case in the debut of an epic fantasy series, this could well turn out to be one of the definitive western fantasies of the 21st century. My only critiscism is that Bakker may drive off a lot of fantasy fans by being too dark for many to be able to stomach.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A. Whitehead TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 2 July 2006
Format: Paperback
The opening volume of The Prince of Nothing Trilogy, itself merely the opening salvo in a much larger epic called The Second Apocalypse, is an insightful, gritty work of epic fantasy. Set in a world which seems to be a collision between Ancient Greece and the First Crusade, the story follows several characters as their destinies become inexorably entwined in the fate of the great Holy War called by the Inrithi Faith against the heathen Fanim. In this first novel the focus is on the sorcerer Achamian as he infiltrates the Holy War, a particularly well-drawn character, if one who is often tormented by birth and circumstance. Elsewhere we meet the enigmatic, insightful Kellhus who seeks his lost father in the lands of the south, and follow the warrior Cnaiur as he journeys from his tribe into the civilised lands of the east on a quest to find his mentor.

The story is intriguing, the writing is extremely powerful in places, and the world is incredibly well-realised. If Bakker has some faults they lie in making the world rather grim, with incidents of light and humour few and far between. But the fleshed-out characters hold the reader's interest, as does the interesting naming conventions (largely based on Ancient Greece, Macedonia and Persia) and the moments of philosophical insight. Unlike more recent books by Steven Erikson, these latter moments are not allowed to overwhelm the main storyline.

Bakker comfortably slips into place as one of the three or four most interesting and innovative fantasy writers working today (alongside Martin, Erikson and Guy Gavriel Kay) . Well recommended.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Michael Tansini on 13 Oct 2004
Format: Paperback
Tired of reading books that create a world in which nothing is explained? Tired of reading books that skimp out human culture and make each realm a carbon copy of the one before? You need a book that gives you interesting cultures, religions, and so forth without drowning in pedantic detail. You will like The Darkness that Comes Before.
It is not an easy ride. Those looking for skimpy light fare will hurry past this one. The first 100 or so pages are thick in details and names that the mind shudders to remember them all. Some names seem unpronounceable, others full of dots accents and circumflexes to the point of drowning.
But soon the mind remembers each one. Some things are only mentioned- hinted at, but the interest on each one does not die away.
And the villains! Trust me, you will never look at a Trolloc in the same way. The same childish, cardboard cut-outs of the real thing. These villains exude such an aura of palpable menace that you would scream if you could but your larynx has already distatched itself from your throat and hidden itself under the sofa.
The prose is brilliant as well. IT is written with such a great use of vocabulary and metaphors that your mind reels, like when you took your first sip of wine, and entrance into another world full of vivid descriptions.
The plot flows well, with interesting events popping up. It flows well, political intrigue is better than most, you can gradually fell the escalating fundamentalist religous antagonism building up in Sumna and the tension in the Emperor's court.
So overall the Darkness that Comes Before is a great worthy of your time if you want to be immersed in a rich evocative fantasy that will be lauded for decades after its release
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