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

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  14,051 Ratings  ·  705 Reviews
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 ...more
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Published April 15th 2003 by Penguin Books Canada
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Orion_metalhead I read this when it came out and there were no sci-fi aesthetics at all. It reads at times like theology, at other times philosophy, and other times…moreI read this when it came out and there were no sci-fi aesthetics at all. It reads at times like theology, at other times philosophy, and other times like swords and sorcery novels. It reads dustily.

Needless to say, but I was very impressed and to this day it is the book that ruined a lot of fantasy reading for me because several books afterwards, I couldn't find anything that really competed with the high-mindedness and I completely stopped reading fantasy for many years. (less)
Rick Wilder I'm only about 50 pages in. I'd say his prose is similar to Tolkien - poetic and elevated, and a little heavy on description, but still…moreI'm only about 50 pages in. I'd say his prose is similar to Tolkien - poetic and elevated, and a little heavy on description, but still understandable. Have you read LOTR? If you have, you should be able to handle this.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Mark Lawrence
Aug 16, 2012 Mark Lawrence rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Justin Evans
Dec 28, 2011 Justin Evans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Elspeth
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 author...it felt arrogant, high handed and pissed me off.

*shivers*
Heinleinfan
Jan 28, 2008 Heinleinfan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Gamma Mouse
Sep 26, 2008 Gamma Mouse rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Curtis
Feb 15, 2008 Curtis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...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
Lee
Sep 05, 2012 Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: epic-fantasy
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
...more
Mike
Nov 29, 2011 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, epics, reviewed
Observational aside: I will rarely reread books. Once I finish a book it is usually off to the next one, with few exceptions. In this case the sixth book in the series, The Great Ordeal, is coming out soon, a book I have waited nearly five years for, and I wanted to give myself a refresher on the entire series before it was released. I don't recall the first time I read "The Prince of Nothing" trilogy but Goodreads assures me it was before I joined this website. Since then I have read literally ...more
Tammy
May 18, 2015 Tammy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book grips you. A page turner. Complex world with complex characters. Schemes upon schemes, epic battles mixed with political intrigue. Bakker writes mature characters, mature themes for the thinking audience. His world, Earwa is well defined and has an exotic feel to it. The Darkness That Comes Before lays the foundation for the main event of the series: The Holy War.
Notable characters: Achamian (spy/sorceror),
Cnauir (you do not wanna offend this guy),
Kellhus (more than a man, moves strin
...more
Terry
Mar 28, 2011 Terry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, canadian
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
...more
KJ
Sep 09, 2007 KJ rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Katie
Mar 22, 2011 Katie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, fiction
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
J.G. Keely
Dec 08, 2011 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 views on worldbuilding are not very flattering, and as such, they have inspired a massive
...more
Twerking To Beethoven
I've gone through some reviews and it seems to me "The Darkness That Comes Before" isn't everybody's cup of tea. There are a lot of one-star reviews and heaps of dnf's. Well, now that I've read it, I guess i know why.

I reckon this book is not a walk in the park, Bakker's prose gets a bit cryptical here and there. It's really not the easiest text to get into... and it might get a tad frustrating, alright. I mean, sometimes the reader finds himself wondering what is going on... I, for one, had to
...more
St-Michel
Jan 13, 2008 St-Michel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008, own
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
...more
BookBandit
Nov 05, 2013 BookBandit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Mathew Babaoye
Nov 18, 2015 Mathew Babaoye rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this one despite despite some minor flaws, and the first series is one of my favorite fantasy trilogies of all time. Will post a full review later in 2016 which will go over my detailed appreciation for the philosophy behind it, Kellhus, Cnaiür, Esmenet, Achamian, Conphas, the Schools and the Consult.
Anthony Ryan
May 06, 2012 Anthony Ryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Epic fantasy through the prism of Nietzschian philosophy, all rendered in compelling and exquisite prose. Highly recommended.
Belen Schneider
Jan 02, 2013 Belen Schneider rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Sahil
Mar 31, 2009 Sahil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-the-best
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
...more
Artemas
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
Jenna Kathleen
I have thought back and forth for awhile, but I think I am finally giving up on this book after reaching the half-way mark. I want to come back to it and try again someday, but I'm really not in the right mood for this book.

The names are awful. I don't think I've encountered names as difficult as the ones in The Prince of Nothing. I can't remember who is who because their names are all so complicated. Throw places into the mix and I am lost.

What I loved about this book and why I really want to c
...more
Michael
Mar 07, 2009 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Matthew
Dec 12, 2014 Matthew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Holy shit... incredible. An amazing read that had me hooked yet also challenged me on many levels. Have already ordered next book.
Sumant

War is dark. Black as pitch. It is not a God. It does not laugh or weep. It rewards neither skill nor daring. It is not a trial of souls, not the measure of wills. Even less is it a tool, a means to some womanish end. It is merely the place where the iron bones of the earth meet the hollow bones of men and break them.


The first book in Prince of nothing trilogy is all about war or for that matter Holy war, but it's not just about a group of assembled mean laying a siege to a fortress or people go
...more
Jason
Aug 10, 2009 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, reread, read-2015
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
...more
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
Maggie K
Jun 09, 2011 Maggie K rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Monica
Mar 11, 2014 Monica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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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 writin
...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)

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“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?” 67 likes
“Faith is the truth of passion. Since no passion is more true than another, faith is the truth of nothing.” 60 likes
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