Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Darkness that Comes Before” as Want to Read:
The Darkness that Comes Before
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  11,409 ratings  ·  563 reviews
The Darkness That Comes Before is R. Scott Bakker's first novel, the beginning of a large-scale, swords and magic fantasy trilogy. It's a book with historical depth by an author as interested in exploring the philosophy of his world as its violent, conflicted politics. The novel begins a bit slowly as we're introduced to the characters and the world they live in. There's K ...more
Paperback, 635 pages
Published April 13th 2004 by Penguin Canada (first published April 15th 2003)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Darkness that Comes Before, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Darkness that Comes Before

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Mark Lawrence
Found this in the parents' room at the hospital.

So I've seen a lot of Bakker-talk online and you'd think to read it that the man was either the devil incarnate or a seven-fold genius come to show the true way. A phrase I'm used to hearing is 'marmite book', another is 'you'll either love it or hate it - there's no in between'. All as much bollocks here of course as when applied to my own work. A simple click of the ratings button shows a vast number of in betweens. In fact most people are in bet
Justin Evans
Ha! I love the reviews for this book. If you're older than 14, and have ever read anything the cover of which does *not* feature embossed gold lettering and a fire-breathing dragon Goddess, you love it. People who don't understand the 'show' vs 'tell' distinction but use it anyway, people who have the vocabulary of a 12 year old, and people who are unwilling to put in any effort whatsoever hate it. I don't read much fantasy, just because I can't take much description in prose, let alone the stil ...more
I never finished this book, actually I never finished the first chapter.

I couldn't read this book it was like the author grabbed a thesaurus and picked out vocabulary that would have even made Jerome Shostak have to look it up!
It made me hate the felt arrogant, high handed and pissed me off.

This was a disappointment. I generally like epic fantasy, but this author is convinced that having absolutely no exposition is perfectly okay when creating a world. It's not. If there are 8 different countries and nationalities, a few nobles, a few peasants, 12 different factions within each nationality, 5 different schools of magic, 3 different major religious beliefs, some humans, some not humans (maybe?) and all these things are named with the most un-familiar sounding tripe names you can ima ...more
Paul Stotts
There are very few books that are as ambitious as R. Scott Bakker's "The Darkness That Comes Before". Most authors would never attempt to create such a vast world with a deeply encompassing and vital intellectual history, and disparate races that have varying philosophical viewpoints and ways of perceiving the world. This novel, while a putative fantasy, is so remarkably well-conceived and executed that it feels more like a historical recollection of a lost world. In fact, Bakker liberally uses ...more
Harold Ogle
Its jacket covered with hyperbolic praise, this book intrigued me enough that I borrowed it from our local library. Reviewers compare it, ecstatically, to both the Song of Ice and Fire and the Lord of the Rings, though in some measure surpassing both of them. Well, comparisons to LotR are de rigeur for any fantasy novel wanting to be taken seriously. But why compare this to GRR Martin's series? For the first hundred pages, the comparison seems nonsensical. But then it starts to make a twisted se ...more
This trilogy is really crazy interesting. My friends and I have a category of literature that I enjoy, basically calling it "Lit grad student masturbation" (e.g. Cloud Atlas, Infinte Jest). Although it's mainly used in the perjorative, it also describes incredibly accurately the writing style, very heady, involved, and vocab intense.

This is the first time I've encountered Philosophy grad student automanipulation, and it's enthralling, especially in the fantasy genre, where various philisophical
3.5 stars

After finishing The White Luck Warrior, the most recent volume in R. Scott Bakker’s fantasy novels set in the world of Eärwa, and realizing that I had many months to wait for the next book, and somehow feeling like I didn’t yet want to leave this dark and twisted world I decided to go back to the first series and give it a re-read. Eärwa is an interesting secondary world: one in which the metaphysics of its religions are objectively true, as are the consequences of not adhering to thei
I can't decide how I feel about this book. Well-written, engaging characters, a fantasy world with enough differences from the norm that I felt like I was discovering something new and interesting. I picked it up from the shelf in the bookstore because the recommendation card said "Fans of George R.R. Martin and Guy Gavriel Kay will love it!", and I certainly see where they're coming from with that. This is the first book in a (complete! hooray!) trilogy, and I'm sufficiently engaged that I'm wo ...more
After reading up on this series, I had really high hopes going into it - looking for something that would really revolutionize the fantasy genre. Boy, was I ever disappointed...and I mean really disappointed.

The book started off great, which lead me to believe that it was truly going to live up to the reviews I've read. Well, as soon as the introduction came to a close, this thing just began to droll on and on at such a tediously slow pace. This book just bored the hell out of me. It seemed to f
This book, more than any other book seems to polarize my GR buddies. I don't know many people who sit on the fence with this book. At one end of the scale you have "my favourite series, this is amazing" and at the other end; "you'll remember your time having gastro more favourably than this book".

Me, I am going to come down off the fence on the side of the like-sters.

I am not sure where the bad rep comes from, I have read far far worse than this, I have also read far better, but for a first in
J.G. Keely
Jul 10, 2015 J.G. Keely marked it as to-avoid  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
In my ongoing exploration of Worldbuilding on my blog, I've found the observations and thoughts of many different authors to be of use, including LeGuin and Moorcock--but it's been M. John Harrison's approach that I find most intriguing, because he begins the work of setting up a working theory for what worldbuilding is, how it operates, and why certain writers and fans may be attracted to it.

Of course, his comments have inspired a huge backlash from those fans and writers, who have tried to def
Ugh. I really wanted to like this book. I'm pretty much the target audience for this - I like my fantasy books on the more serious side, I like them to have a fixation with history, and I like them to be pretty detailed in their development. And since I study medieval history, I got to pick out all the allusions to the real Crusades. But I can't say I'd really recommend it - for all its good attributes it winds up getting a bit too caught up in trying to maintain its own self-importance for it t ...more
Patience grasshopper, patience...

To those who are considering reading this book: I would recommend this read; however, you will need to be patient. Well written (language wise), intricate and clever, you can not deny the effort and care put forth by Mr. Bakker. With that said,the story is slow to get going and there is a delayed satisfaction at play. I note this because of the many frustrated (and low # star) reviews I had seen when contemplating whether to begin this trilogy or not. The first 5
This is a very difficult book to begin reading. The first one hundred pages or so are filled with so many characters and plots and the setting up of a whole fantasy world that your brain swims in all of these details while trying to keep them together. The determined reader will be richly rewarded though by continuing through hundreds of pages over Bakker's next two books in the trilogy. I am completely at awe with his masterful interjection of philosophy, keen insights into human pysche and the ...more
How should I review this book? Let me start by addressing those who reviewed this book and thought the author was Tyranothesaurus Rex with his use of arrogant sounding vocabulary words. I saw many people complain about this and I’m really puzzled because the only words I didn’t understand were the ones he created for the different sects/organizations/cults/whatevers. Are you people mad that Tolkien said Lothlorien instead of London? Bakker does not abuse his thesaurus at all. That being said, th ...more
Belen Schneider
This review is more of an overall primer to the series, and less of a book-specific review. - but I feel like some folks might need a little initial encouragement :)

I've read a fair amount of fantasy fiction, and what I find most compelling in a book is strong character development and witty banter. This book took everything I had to get through the first 4-5 chapters...but it was well worth the tenacity.

Why was it such a slow start for me? Bakker has obviously put an enormous amount of effort i
Dark, powerful, and an excellent beginning to what I hope (and kind of expect)will be an excellent series.

The combination of philosophy and fantasy allows a breakthrough into a new dimension of both that allows a much deeper immersion into the book than with any traditional fantasy novel.

Although Achamian is the protagonist of the novel, one cannot help but be drawn to many of the other characters. Esmenet, for example, shows tremendous wisdom but is helpless because of her situations, fabricate
David Clark
The first in a massively epic fantasy series based strongly on the Crusades and rooted in philosophical discourse and concept. This book is about the size of Jordan's Wheel of Time or Goodkind's horrid Wizard's First Rule, but it's actually good. A little slow to really start moving, but the world is so originally constructed and richly detailed, and the writing is such a relief (not brilliant but certainly very good) that the starting speed can be forgiven. There are many "main" characters and ...more
this is one of the things that you either love or hate.

i cant argue that writing is bad or that it lacks imagination or that the world is boring. its all there and don't mind me, it could be good for you, even great.

so, if its so great, why 1 star?
simple, really...
because i hated it!

i find it makes me angry the way he deliberately makes things hard to comprehend and muddies the waters all the time. i forced my self to read it, so i could see what it is all about. And in the end i can say, it n
Althea Ann
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 ha ...more
The story is interesting enough so far. The writing is merely competent; it keeps the story going, and that's about it.

I am abandoning this series. The writing is all tell and little show. I appreciate that Bakker has developed, or perhaps over-developed, a huge backstory to all of this, but instead of allowing it to seep up into the triology, he bombards you with it from page one. Just flip through this book and look at how many proper nouns there are on each page. It is absurd. None of the inf
At its core 'The darkness that comes before' is a study in human psychology. Every character is basicaly a psychological question. Every major event a stage for additional exploration, a new set of cues to examine development and behaviour. And the fantasy world itself serves to expand the field of examination and the scope of possible answers.

Don't get me wrong. There is also a fascinating tale, an interesting world with lots of details, passion and turmoil. But it's the psychological setup tha
Laura Mcnamara
I can easily see why readers - particularly intelligent female readers - hate Bakker's work. The books are brilliantly ornate, but also maddeningly overwrought, and the female characters are disappointing.

I picked up The Prince of Nothing after reading an article suggesting it was a good choice for us impatient George RR Martin fans. Bakker's world is easily as complex, but it's nothing like Martin's. For one thing, his narrative doesn't have that freewheeling, earthy raunchiness and humor that
Maggie K
I was pretty sure I was going to like this...after all, it is supposed to be of enormous scope in the same vein as Malazan....and it certainly is!
I did have a little trouble keeping the names of people and places straight, but after a while it all came together.
Although I don't LIKE Kelhus at all, I am very intrigued to see where he goes with things. The character building here is just spot on. Everyone is so very human!
Christy Ford
I really wanted to like this book. Some of the descriptive writing is well beyond what you normally see in this genre, and the character and backstory of Kelhus is fascinating.

Unfortunately, it just didn't work for me. The biggest fault is the characters just aren't likeable. Kelhus and Cnaiur are at least interesting, even if they aren't sympathetic. The rest of the cast, which gets more of the camera time anyway, is worse.

It reads slowly, and while it hints at intriguing long-range themes, the
I didn't really "read" this one, as I couldn't finish it. It seemed like a good book, I even read a few pages thoroughout before I brought the thing. I should have seen this coming, but the section I read was interesting. Next time, I start fromt the beginning.

The characters are flat, unengaging, and sound alike. Even the women sound like the men. There is no real clear to what some of the characters look like. The world is filled with large words, there is no clue how to pronounce them. It feel
This is a beautifully written book, and it is also very intelligent. Its the kind of book where you savor every line. The plot does move a bit slowly throughout the book, with some parts being slower than others. It also takes a bit of time to become comfortable enough with the characters and the world that you are fully immersed in the story.
Anthony Ryan
Epic fantasy through the prism of Nietzschian philosophy, all rendered in compelling and exquisite prose. Highly recommended.
5 Stars

““He says . . . says such sweet things to give me comfort . . . He says that one of my seed will return, Seswatha. An Anasurimbor will return—” The High King winced and shuddered. Spittle hissed through clenched teeth.
“—at the end of the world.””

Darkness that Comes Before has been one of my favorite novels for a long time. The Prince of Nothing Series by R. Scott Bakker marked a change in my reading habits. He brought the grit and dirt of the adult world to my fantasy. Bye Bye do-good he
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
  • Hawkwood's Voyage (The Monarchies of God, #1)
  • An Autumn War (Long Price Quartet, #3)
  • Night of Knives (Malazan Empire, #1)
  • Heroes Die (The Acts of Caine, #1)
  • The Bonehunters (The Malazan Book of the Fallen, #6)
  • The Folding Knife
  • Acacia: The War with the Mein (Acacia, #1)
  • Lamentation (Psalms of Isaak, #1)
  • Nights of Villjamur (Legends of the Red Sun, #1)
  • The Briar King (Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone, #1)
  • Empire in Black and Gold (Shadows of the Apt, #1)
Richard Scott Bakker, who writes as R. Scott Bakker and as Scott Bakker, is a novelist whose work is dominated by a large series informally known as the The Second Apocalypse which Bakker began developing whilst as college in the 1980s. The series was originally planned to be a trilogy, with the first two books entitled The Prince of Nothing and The Aspect-Emperor. However, when Bakker began writi ...more
More about R. Scott Bakker...

Other Books in the Series

The Prince of Nothing (3 books)
  • The Warrior Prophet (The Prince of Nothing, #2)
  • The Thousandfold Thought (The Prince of Nothing, #3)
The Warrior Prophet (The Prince of Nothing, #2) The Thousandfold Thought (The Prince of Nothing, #3) The Judging Eye (Aspect-Emperor, #1) The White Luck Warrior (Aspect-Emperor, #2) Neuropath

Share This Book

“The thoughts of all men arise from the darkness. If you are the movement of your soul, and the cause of that movement precedes you, then how could you ever call your thoughts your own? How could you be anything other than a slave to the darkness that comes before?” 51 likes
“Faith is the truth of passion. Since no passion is more true than another, faith is the truth of nothing.” 51 likes
More quotes…