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 - its language and classes of people, its cities, religions, mysteries, taboos, and rituals - the kind of all-embracing universe Tolkien and Herbert created unforgettably in the epic fantasies The Lord of the Rings and Dune.
It's a world scarred by an apocalyptic past, evoking a time both 2,000 years past and 2,000 years into the future, as untold thousands gather for a crusade. Among them, two men and two women are ensnared by a mysterious traveler, Anasûrimbor Kellhus - part warrior, part philosopher, part sorcerous, charismatic presence - from lands long thought dead. The Darkness That Comes Before is a history of this great holy war, and like all histories, the survivors write its conclusion.
©2003 R. Scott Bakker (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
I have been waiting and waiting for this to finally come out in audiobook. And just in time for summer! Great writing - a bit overwrought, but in a good way - like a blend of MAR Barker and HP Lovecraft and Gene Wolfe.
I got these in book form on a lark when they came out and have gotten most of my family and friends to try it out. In that same spirit, I am writing a review so that someone out there will also give it a try and like it.
If you like Joe Abercrombie, Brent Weeks, or any of the new school reflective fantasy (as in fantasy more reflective of our real world - its what I call it anyway), I suggest you give it a try.
Lots of Characters and intricate language, do yourself a favor and find the printed book's character list and lexicon appendixes online somewhere as a companion to the audio version.
David DeVries voice drove me absolutely nuts when I listened for the first fifteen minutes. I gave it a chance because I thought it could shape up to be an excellent story.
I'm glad I gave it a shot because the story and narrator quickly evolved into something great. The story is interesting and mysterious and most of the characters are really well done. The first half of the book is a lot of world building and character introductions, while the last half really gets into the meat of the plot and builds the premise of what is to come.
Right after I hit submit on this review I will be purchasing book 2.
I believe that I would listen to the entire series again, yes. It is very deep and complex, and at some times even confusing. I pride myself as an attentive listener of audiobooks, I don't jsut put them on and then tune them out, and at times I had a little trouble following along. However, this is in no way a refutation of the book or the series. They are both wonderfully written and performed.
I'd have to say that I liked the depth of all the characters the best. Baker does an amazing job at characterization. Each and every one of them is complex, conflicted and unique.
While I didn't laugh out loud or cry while listening to The Darkness That Comes Gefore, I did have a strong reaction to the entire series. The main character, demands one from the reader. Love him or hate him, you will feel something towards him.
This is a fully realized world. Great conflicts. Original characters.
Dark dark magicians.
I drive long distances and tend to listen in long blocks. I could easily listen for 6+ hrs
Lifetime reader, starting with the Boxcar Children through Harry Dresden and Mistborn
I think that the written version would be better for the first time encountering the series because the names, places, magics, and history can get confusing.
The build up to the holy war and the frustration I felt when Akka encountered the first Consult agent. I wanted to shake him.
Inflection and understanding
I would have loved to do so.
Always open to something new, but my favorite genres are horror, sci-fi/fantasy with more of a leaning toward fantasy.
Not really. Friends have been after me for years to read this series and I just didn't get around to it. The book is a slow starter, but just good enough to keep the reader going toward the last third of the book or so where things start coming together nicely.
Well, I like philosophy. People should understand before going into this series, Bakker is a philosopher in real life as well as fantasy author. His world is large, complex and the people in it are complex. This is no dragons and magicians' apprentices type of fantasy world. The land Bakker writes in is at war and the magic is nasty, hard. The entire series is about a crusade launched against a "heathen" people who years before had taken over lands that once belonged to one of the empires involved. Many things involved in the series parallel our own earth's history (the Crusades mostly). The series is chock full of philosophy, religion, magic, war, politics and plotting/backstabbing and even tragic love. I liked the level Bakker writes at even though I enjoy more light fantasy too (something like the Wheel of Time).
He does a good job with everybody I think. I came into the series blind, not having read any of it, and by the end I think he represented the character's traits pretty well. It was interesting seeing the names in print after hearing them pronounced. I also suggest for anybody coming into the series without a book to go Online and find maps of the world so you understand what nations and peoples Bakker is writing about and where they are from in the world.
It's probably a little too philosophically deep to make a script and retain all of the plotting and conniving and philosophizing going on. The magic would be really expensive to do effects for also.
I stated before that the book started slow and dragged a bit. But, I will say that by the end of the first book I was ready to immediately buy the second book because I wanted to hear more of the story. I will also tell you that the rest of the series is definitely not a letdown, the second and third book are definitely better, so don't get discouraged if you decide to dive in and find it a little slow at first.
Enthralling, brutality, artistry
I personally love the moments when you gain insight into Kellhus' background and training
He has some flimsy accents, and sometimes the same character's accent will change. I found myself laughing a lot at his inability to keep track of those details, granted, there are a lot of characters.
Can't leave spoilers! I found the whole book quite moving.
I have read this book print three times. I'm almost finished listening to the audio version. I highly recommend reading this book in print. You can take your time with it and absorb things. I am really enjoying the audio, but I think it helps that I know the story already.
I love this series so far. However, It is not for the feint of heart. It is brutal. Awesome though.
Unique epic fantasy.
Nearly everything about the novel is memorable. There are some characters that fascinate me more than others, but even the ones I am less interested in remain gripping. The intellectual, moral, philosophical and political complexity of the story is amazing. I read it 5 years ago, read the whole series, in fact, and came back to this now. And it is still amazing.
I don't normally read epic fantasy, so am not accustomed to this many characters and wondered if the vast creativity and the suspense would translate into audio. DeVries' capacity to do a dozen different accents, and another half-dozen tones of voice, made this a really good audio book. That is not to say there are not a lot of complex names and geographies to keep in your head as you listen, but Bakker is writing to an intelligent audience.
Just loved it (again). And just bought the second in this series.
The story has an expansive epic feel.
I found the secondary characters far more engaging than the main protagonist.
Nicely paced engaging audio reading. I did not find I was rewinding continually because I had lost the thread.
The strong religious, and moral absolutism of the characters meant that none of them appeared to develop much, as such I found my self rooting for unusual secondary characters. There is also a strong sense of homophobia in the cultures of characters which made me uncomfortable. This was not like the casual Game of thrones style sexism and homophobia, which in my opinion added to the believability of the environment, but seamed to be a moral statement by the author.
Altogether this is quite a good epic yarn about the people great and smalls, take and experience on events greater than all of them. If you are more into personal relationships with the characters development, rather than a more traditional Ragnarök style story of heroes and events, I would not recommend it. I am hoping book 2 and 3 offer more in that vain.
I agree whole heartedly with the previous reviewer. Get a narrator like Steven pacey to tell this story. The current reader is terrible and unsually for me, i gave up listening after about two hours and put the radio on. Ive often found the narrator can bring a book to life while this one simply detroys it. One stars all round, but in all honesty I might be doing the author an injustice because of the poor reader. Sort it audible and ill try the book again!
Listen to it yourself and you will understand why. A little emotion, different accents/voices. Too stiff, too wooden. I've heard computer generated voices with more fluency.
"Good read!! Bad Narrator!!"
Please, Please, PLEASE.... get Steven Pacey to record this!! For whatever reason... the reader/storyteller just doesn't get it. I have had SO much trouble listening because his reading, voices and timing are just plain OFF.
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