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on 11 December 2015
After branching off into some other fiction, I felt the itch to come back to fantasy and, after a bit of looking around, stumbled upon this and thought I'd see if it was any good. I have not been disappointed, this is nothing short of amazing.

The plot follows a handful of characters as their threads become entwined in an overall arc. If you were to break this down to its very core you'd find standard fantasy elements - a sorceror, a barbarian, a forgotten prince etc, all joining a war with the ever present (but not really believed by most) threat of an ancient demon-god coming back to threaten the world with darkness. However, as average as that sounds, the writing is of such an incredibly high standard that Bakker could throw in any type of character and you'd still read it. Each character is overwhelmingly deep in substance, and this is an almost constant exploration of the various aspects of humanity; there are phrases and passages in here that you read several times, then shut the book and contemplate for a time.

I won't attempt to summarise the characters or the story, as even a summary would take too long and not do this justice. Sufficed to say that if you love high/epic fantasy, this is for you. It is a little tricky to start with, but nothing too difficult, and my main (and only) slight niggle is that some of the character and place names are very complicated. I often find myself simply recognising the shapes of the words rather than attempting to pronounce them. But that really is the only criticism I can offer, and it's a very subjective one. This is the start of what will surely be one of the best fantasy novels I've read in a long time.
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on 18 December 2016
This is the best series since Patrick Rothfuss' first 2 books. It takes a little while to get to grips with the characters, factions and countries and it pays to access the wiki on occasion. However once you get into them you don't want to stop. P.S. I gave up on book 1 of The Malazan Book of the Fallen series as it was just too difficult to keep up!
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on 8 May 2017
Massive story, with its own history embedded within it.
Excellent characters - you root for some, hate others. A number of protagonists are followed, meeting and leaving the main story.
Politics, battles, magic, mysterious skills. Complicated but worth the effort.
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on 29 April 2017
Can't be bothered to read it again like Martin's game of thrones so many strands characters and ideas, but of course I'm hooked dammit.
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on 6 December 2015
Simply put, the first volume of one of the best fantasy series in years.

Wonderfully written with some of the best action sequences the genre has to offer, an interesting magic system and intricate word-building that is not only broad but deep.

It's Lord of the Rings meets the crusades meets Dune, with a dash of Nietzsche for good measure. It at once pays tribute to the forefathers of the genre while remaining refreshingly original.

Highly recommended.
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on 30 June 2017
Better than most of the fantasy ive read recently.
Not a great book but i read it in a few nights so i must have been gripped.
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on 28 May 2017
One of the best books by one of the best authors I have ever read, it starts the first trilogy of an amazing series.
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on 17 July 2017
Not a great read unfortunately - the story is better than most but the writing is a struggle to get through.
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on 25 June 2017
Storyline good, writing good...
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on 13 July 2010
'The Darkness That Comes Before' is without a doubt one of the most detailed fantasy books I have ever read and has an incredibly rich world with dozens of factions and rivalries whether they be political, the classic good vs evil or family. The multiple converging storyline's and sub-plots will keep you gripped whilst the richly imagined world in which the book takes place will draw you in until you could almost believe that the world R Scott Baker has created is actually real.

I bought this book because after a while reading the same old 'Good Vs Evil' and 'Boy and friend grow up to be incredibly important' type books which always had the bad guys being totally evil and the good guys being totally good became very boring. I still like that type of fantasy from time to time but eventually the cynic in me ruins things by pointing that real people are never that heroic, if you'ver ever felt like this then 'The Darkness That Comes Before' is the perfect antidote.

This is not to say that every character in the book is selfish but rather that they make mistakes, they sometimes do things out of self-interest and even the heroes at times have to succumb to 'The End justifies the means' philosphy in order to achieve their goals much as many in the real world have to.

The large cast of characters which include a Prostitute, monk, Emperor and nobles to name a few are also by no means stereotypical; indeed they subvert many of the conventions of the genre and in so doing make 'The Darkness That Comes Before' a breath of fresh air in a at times stale genre.

In short if you've got tired of reading Aes Sedai smooth their skirts in 'The Wheel of Time' or you can't take the thought of reading about anymore elves or dwarves without feeling suicidal then you should definitely read 'The Darkness That Comes Before'. It's every bit as epic as Lord of The Rings and the world R Scott Baker has created feels just as well imagined as Tolkien's middle earth. If however you're a bit of a fantasy romanticist you should probably buy something more 'conventional' like Robert Jordans epic 'The Wheel of Time' or Raymond E Feists excellent 'The Riftwar Saga'.
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