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The Darkness That Comes Before

(The Prince of Nothing #1)

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  18,432 ratings  ·  1,022 reviews
The first book in R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing series creates a world from whole cloth-its language and classes of people, its cities, religions, mysteries, taboos, and rituals. It's a world scarred by an apocalyptic past, evoking a time both two thousand years past and two thousand years into the future, as untold thousands gather for a crusade. Among them, two men ...more
Paperback, 608 pages
Published May 31st 2005 by Harry N. Abrams (first published April 15th 2003)
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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 l…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)
Shane Duquette Many characters, minor and major, have their moment as the POV character, but by and large, the book is broken into just a few main points of view: th…moreMany characters, minor and major, have their moment as the POV character, but by and large, the book is broken into just a few main points of view: the sorcerer, the Emperor, the harlot, and the warrior.(less)

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Mark Lawrence
Aug 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Lady Luna. ✨
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: grimdark, great-books

“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?”

Jason Deem's re-imagery of the series covers.. Which I prefer to the original covers which is half a face in a circle..

This novel is one of those novels that are basically impossible to review. So excuse the word v
Mar 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This is a fantasy tale of epic proportions: it starts with events taken place 2,000 years ago and continues all the way to "present". As the events of the past were described in 2 pages and the rest 600+ pages took place "now" I will ignore the former.

We are talking about lands with multitude of people with different languages, cultures, religions, etc. A long time ago practically everybody was obliterated by so-called First Apocalypse (or great war, to put it in simple terms). These days a cha
Justin Evans
Dec 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 28, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Jul 15, 2011 rated it did not like it
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.

Sep 26, 2008 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
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
Mar 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
This is my second read of Bakker's compelling dark fantasy The Darkness That Comes Before. My first read was around the original publication date. I recall this being one of the best dark fantasy books I'd read to that point. I remember thinking the writing was engaging, the plot was interesting, the world building was fantastic, and that the characters were memorable. The only flaws I had identified was that the sheer complex nature of the world and characters meant that it took me about 100 pa ...more
Mar 22, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
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
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
Books with Brittany
It’s gonna be a NO from me.
Feb 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 29, 2011 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
Nick Borrelli
Dec 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Maybe one of the most compelling and complex fantasy reads I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I was turned away from this series on a number of different occasions because I had read so many reviews that trashed it as self-serving pseudo-intellectual drivel. Well, I'm glad I finally put all of that aside and gave it a go because in my opinion, nothing could be further from the truth. It does require a great deal of patience and fortitude because Bakker does you no favors as far as holding ...more
May 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 06, 2017 added it
Shelves: d-n-f
I've tried to read this for three years in a row and never been able to get interested in it. Glad others enjoy it though. ...more
Mar 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian, fantasy
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
Sep 09, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Jun 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved the writing style in this somewhat dark and philosophical start to a series. The prologue immediately let me know I was in for an amazing journey with Bakker. While I had this as a solid 4 star throughout most of the book, the last two parts of the story bumped up the intrigue level and rating for me. Also, VERY thankful for the glossary and suggested pronunciations at the back of the book!
Anthony Ryan
May 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Epic fantasy through the prism of Nietzschian philosophy, all rendered in compelling and exquisite prose. Highly recommended.
Scott  Hitchcock
DNF @25%. This book and series really should have been right in my wheelhouse but I honestly just couldn't bring myself to care. There were too many names, characters, sects, religions to balance with the clunky writing style. I've read and enjoyed Neichze. I recently read Beyond Redemption and it was a 5* book containing a lot of philosophy and religious content. I just felt every page was a slog to get through.

Keep in mind I'm a huge Malazan fan and was never lost reading Garden's of the moon
J.G. Keely
Dec 08, 2011 marked it as to-avoid
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
Jan 13, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2008
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
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
Chris Gousopoulos
Grim, dark, bitter and humorless and yet one of the best first books I have ever read. The premise founded here is enormous. I cannot even imagine how epic Second Apocalypse might turn to be. The world building is incredible. Unparalleled. So dense and realistic and at the same time weaved in lore and history that can be compared to the likes of Silmarillion. The world materializes in front of you. Its ruins. Its landmarks. Architecture, costumes, scents, flavors, accents, people. Everything.

May 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a review for another hugely underrated series, The Second Apocalypse by R.Scott Bakker . This is a 9 or 10 book series and every volume is a bit chunky.This review contains no spoilers at all even for the first book.The Second Apocalypse is based in a world called Earwa which is a deserty Arabian eastern world so a more diffrent world than most epic fantasies.This series is a masterpiece in every sense, it is EPIC and huge scaled, It has many HUGE battles and it has a good dose of sorcer ...more
Michael Pang
Nov 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
I both had a very hard time with this book and I also really appreciated it. That is to say, I hated aspects of it and found other parts boring and/or way overblown, while other parts were quite delightful and pushing the boundaries.

So... wait... did you like it?

No. Honestly, I didn't like it much at all. The women were all weak and were all portrayed as whores, but to be fair, most WERE. Long stretches of PoV were from a whore. For reals. But that's not everything. We have a prince of a kingdom
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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

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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292 likes · 194 comments
“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?” 105 likes
“Faith is the truth of passion. Since no passion is more true than another, faith is the truth of nothing.” 74 likes
More quotes…