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

3.76  ·  Rating Details  ·  12,742 Ratings  ·  626 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
Hardcover, 589 pages
Published 2004 by Overlook Press (first published April 15th 2003)
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Mark Lawrence
May 23, 2016 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
Justin Evans
Apr 06, 2012 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
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.

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
May 12, 2011 Gamma Mouse rated it it was amazing
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
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
Harold Ogle
Oct 19, 2012 Harold Ogle rated it it was ok
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
Jun 07, 2016 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
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
J.G. Keely
Nov 12, 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 views on worldbuilding are not very flattering, and as such, his comments have inspired a
Aug 11, 2015 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
Jan 20, 2008 St-Michel rated it did not like it
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
Jun 16, 2014 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
Aug 17, 2012 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
Jan 06, 2014 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
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
Anthony Ryan
Aug 24, 2014 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 11, 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
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
Mathew Babaoye
Jan 25, 2016 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.
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
Nov 23, 2015 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.
Althea Ann
Feb 16, 2013 Althea Ann rated it it was ok
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
David Clark
Jun 01, 2008 David Clark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Maggie K
Jun 04, 2014 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!
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.
May 03, 2015 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
Apr 08, 2011 Matthew rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
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
Nov 03, 2015 agata rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, szafa
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
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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 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)

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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?” 57 likes
“Faith is the truth of passion. Since no passion is more true than another, faith is the truth of nothing.” 56 likes
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