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The Darkness That Comes Before

The Prince of Nothing, Book One
Narrated by: David DeVries
Series: The Prince of Nothing, Book 1
Length: 20 hrs and 44 mins
4.0 out of 5 stars (93 ratings)

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Summary

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.

What listeners say about The Darkness That Comes Before

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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.

15 people found this helpful

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Narrator ruins a good book

I have read the book(s). And I enjoyed them. But I lasted about 5 minutes with this audio book. The narrator is, being polite, not good. Super flat, monotone reading. It sounds like a computer program reading the book. I don't want to be cruel. But some quality control should be done over the narration. What I thought was a sure bet, as I have read the book(s), turned out to be a disaster. I feel like I wasted my money :-(

1 person found this helpful

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Serious adult fantasy

Written before the time of adult gritty TV and Film. This story takes gritty fantasy to the next level. Huge story arc fantastic characters. An Original good vrs Bad story.
A huge book. Nice to be able to get through it quickly listening this via the audio version. Narrator did a fair job. So many characters to portray must have made it tough creating so many voices. Throughly Enjoyable. Well recommended.

1 person found this helpful

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Please don't take notice of the below reviews

What made the experience of listening to The Darkness That Comes Before the most enjoyable?

Awesome book. If you like an adult-version of Bakker mixed with the depth of of Frank Herbert's 'Dune' then this could be for you. Forget Tolkien, Martin and anyone else. This is dark, complex and easily the best Fantasy series of books I have ever read. Outstanding.

What other book might you compare The Darkness That Comes Before to, and why?

Dune, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones. This book is for adults and has the complexity and depth that 'wipes the floor' with anything else i have read or listened too. Fantasy for adults.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

From beginning to end

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It touched me on an intellectual level. It is complex, dark with many characters. I found it better listening to the audiobook than reading it.

Any additional comments?

The narrator is American, which doesn't normally work on fantasy books inspired by the middles/dark ages, but his characterisations are excellent. Overall, he does a great job.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Mr
  • 04-06-14

Awful Narrator

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

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!

Would you ever listen to anything by R. Scott Bakker again?

Yes

How could the performance have been better?

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.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Not your average Sword and Sorcery!

A complex world of intrigue, politics, violence, faith and magic are explored with meandering, intertwining events that delve into the history and destiny of the people of Eärwa. I love the story and characters in this book, and I was hooked from the epilogue onwards, with its probing internal monologues to the epic events that unfold. However, this is a story you have to engage with and not just have on as background distraction I am no audio book aficionado, but I have listened to many recently and have found that a poor choice of narrator or an odd reading style can be really jarring and make a book hard to engage with. For me this is not one of them. The rhythm can be a little flat at times, but the reader does a fantastic job of injecting drama and urgency at the right moments, and distinct character voices brings everyone to life. I don't envy his job of coping with really complicated names of people and places, as this was something that made me struggle with reading it for myself. So bravo for that! He certainly did as good a job as the text would allow as some passages are very heavy with unusual words, unique to the world of Bakker's creation. .

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Mediocre at best

I was unable to finish this. None of the characters were engaging or memorable and even the often touted philosophical content was sparse and nothing special.

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Sets up the series beautifully

The lore of this book can be a little overwhelming at first with all the different places, schools, characters, battles and religions referenced in this novel. It's certainly not a casual read and will require some patience and time invested to fully grasp the different factions and their iintentions but its well worth it. The world is well described and takes you on an adventure and almost feel like you're there with the POV way it goes through events from different characters perspectives. This book is the first in a series and beautifully sets the hook for the coming books and events.

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the start of a great series

I read this series 10 years ago and thought it would mix things up to listen to it in the "re-read". The story is still enjoyable and boldly sets out its own lot in the crowded realm of epic fantasy. The narrator does an excellent job of providing the characters with distinct voices and lends authority to extended ponderings from the author that could have come off as farcical in lesser hands. Recommended for those seeking something a little different and darker.

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hectic

the book is all over the place too many words too obscure words I know what they mean but it takes some time to figure it out and it is a pain the story is all over the place the plot is confusing I mean WHO IS THE MAIN CHARACTER is it the guy in the first chapter that fight a non-man leader or something the prince or is it the other characters that I don't care about it is honestly hard to concentrate on the story by how little I care about those characters that get put in and out and in and out die and more names names names names names too many I don't want a spread sheet to figure out a story

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  • Andy
  • 28-06-12

Finally in audiobook!

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.

36 people found this helpful

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  • Cody
  • 12-07-12

Rough start, solid overall.

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.

28 people found this helpful

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  • Joe
  • 30-08-12

A very strange series

Would you listen to The Darkness That Comes Before again? Why?

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.

What did you like best about this story?

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.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

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.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Tom
  • 12-11-15

holy Shrial shit batman!that was a good listen

i knew it would be a good listen because it was a great read! This series is every bit as enthralling as Erikksons Malazan series, and Ruthfuss's Kingkiller chronicles.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Ryan
  • 05-12-15

Heavy world-building, but didn't engage me

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.

16 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Geoff
  • 23-04-15

Great Book, Poor Reader

What didn’t you like about David DeVries’s performance?

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.

Any additional comments?

I'm really enjoying this story, but I'll have to somehow find the time to read the sequels without audio.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Ian Nichol
  • 13-09-12

I never write reviews but I loved this

What made the experience of listening to The Darkness That Comes Before the most enjoyable?

This is a fully realized world. Great conflicts. Original characters.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Darkness That Comes Before?

Dark dark magicians.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I drive long distances and tend to listen in long blocks. I could easily listen for 6+ hrs

3 people found this helpful

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  • Derek
  • 09-06-13

Absolutely amazing, second read

If you could sum up The Darkness That Comes Before in three words, what would they be?

Unique epic fantasy.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Darkness That Comes Before?

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.

What about David DeVries’s performance did you like?

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.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Just loved it (again). And just bought the second in this series.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Chris
  • 10-06-18

Probably better as a paperback

Lots of cliches, and a quick reading style. There's an abundance of names tossed at you from the beginning that doesn't work well as an audiobook because you can't go back an reread a paragraph or review a name from a few pages back easily.

1 person found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Fong Liu
  • 25-05-18

reading is horrible--too fast

I could not get past the first few chapters. reading was too fast, I kept missing details.

1 person found this helpful