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
Yes, this book is challenging, but Devries' reading complicates, rather than clarifies. Very little distinction between different characters' voices makes it easy to lose track of who is saying what. Choices on inflection make it sound like he himself has no idea what's going on. Paragraphs are picked up with no breaks, missing the fact that a new idea is starting.
I would often listen to a section two or three times before going to the text and finding it much easier to understand.
I'm really enjoying this story, but I'll have to somehow find the time to read the sequels without audio.
The characters were not engaging or likable. The plot moves slowly. By the end of the book, I was left feeling "That was it"?
He did an average job. The characters and the plot are so convoluted that David DeVries had a definite challenge in narrating this novel. I found myself looking at the Wiki constantly trying to piece together who was who and what was going on.
Honestly, I would have cut about 80% of the book. Great detail is gone into uninteresting and unimportant details about characters and settings that could have been left out. 80% of the book is uninteresting detail that does nothing to enhance the plot.
I actually finally started to get into this book in the last four chapters. Unfortunately, the ending is lackluster and the entire reading experience felt like a waste of time.
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.
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.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
I got about 2/3 of the way through this one and just couldn't sustain interest. This is elaborately plotted fantasy in which many factions and individual players are scheming for control of a world with a lot of history. A religious leader has appeared to organize one group of kingdoms into a Holy War against another country. "Schools" of magicians aligned with one group or another play their own shadowy games. A decadent emperor and his ambitious young nephew have their own agendas. A wandering monk with exceptional powers of psychological manipulation gets involved, and recruits a northern barbarian from a Mongol-like people.
Bakker doesn't do much in the way of easing the reader into his world, but throws us into the middle of the political games, leaving us to figure out who's who and what's what. While I can appreciate that kind of challenge and did find the world-building somewhat interesting, the storytelling just didn't engage me.
The major problem I had with it is that it simply doesn't feel very organic. Bakker clearly had some Big Ideas, and mapped out a complex plot and gave his main players complex motivations, and I applaud him for that. However, for my taste, he's too focused on moving the chess pieces and not enough on giving us a visceral connection to the world and characters. One guy from one kingdom does one thing, and another guy from another kingdom counters with a brilliant stroke, but so what? It's hard for me to care when I don't have much of a feel for either kingdom or either guy. When he does get into backstories, it's mostly to tell us information about the character, rather than really get in the person's head.
For political machinations in a fantasy world, A Song of Fire and Ice is still my go-to series. The characters there feel more like people in a lived-in reality. This one, I'm sorry to say, didn't offer me a comparable experience.
I'll lead with the cons. The first half of this book is confusing. The reader struggles to make the plot clear and the author is packing in a lot of world building.
Now for the pros. This is the first book in my favorite fantasy series. In the second half, the reader greatly improves, and the world building pays off. It also sets the stage for the second and third books (and subsequent series). The second book contains a summary of first book, and I highly recommend glancing at the first part of that (the part that covers the historical back drop you were supposed to infer from the first). It will really clarify things.
This book (and series) is so excellent because it subverts the traditional virtue of fantasy books--courage--in favor of another virtue, skepticism. The entire series is a meditation on doubt, deception, and the human desire for certainty. While the book praises skepticism, it is also unflinching about its costs. The characters are frequently called upon to act under conditions of extreme uncertainty and active deception. The characters who go in for false certainty over doubt are happy (for a time) but ripe for exploitation, while the character who reject the allure of certainty are miserable but (relatively) free.
The most prominent secondary theme is the philosophy of mind--including the philosophy of consciousness and philosophy of action. Again though, epistemic issues are central. Bakker focuses on cognitive impenetrability--the idea that our own mental processes can be inaccessible to us. He especially explores the implications of this hiddeness for the character of conscious experience and free will.
Besides these philosophical themes, Bakker draws richly from history and theology in building his world. It reads as deep and original, but with a familiarity that adds to its realism.
All this makes the Prince of Nothing series one of the most interesting works of fiction I have read, and The Darkness that Comes Before serves as a solid foundation for this amazing trilogy.
"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.
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.
"A truly terrible book"
Nope. the story is disjointed and poor and the narrator not in any type of league
After four hours i couldn't pick up story threads nor could i get round the poor narrator. people do you selves a favor a keep well clear of this ine
Id put the relevant story plots closer together
It was poor all round. i cried at the waste of a credit
Report Inappropriate Content