The Darkness That Comes Before by R Scott Bakker

Rating 8.5/10
A captivating journey through what can only be described as a Middle Eastern world.

Welcome to Eärwa my friends. Where the sun is hot and the names are long. In reflection, these are the first things I always remember of this book. I recommend you spend a few minutes and read the character and faction glossary to familiarize yourself with the pronunciation of the major players and groups, some are quite a mouthful.

The debut from R. Scott Bakker is truly a captivating journey through what can only be described as a Middle Eastern world. There can be no confusion in that the central regions of this novel have obvious parallels to Egypt and Macedonia, with Germanic and Norse influences thrown is as you move north.

The central figure of the book is Drusas Achamian, a spy/sorcerer of questionable value to his school of Sorcery, The Mandate. While being the smallest school, they are unquestionably the most powerful one. The reason for this is The “Gnosis,” which has been passed to them by the ancient sorcerer Seswatha.  The tradeoff for this power is the sharing of Seswatha's spirit which causes them to relive the final battles of the apocalypse every night in their dreams. They are a ridiculed school because of their belief of The Consult, an ancient force that served the No-God and survived the first apocalypse 2000 years earlier. Their belief that they will return has made the Mandate outcasts since The Consult has not been seen since the First Apocalypse and has become stories to scare children.

I found Mr. Bakker's writing style to be extremely satisfying. When I was finished a reading session I felt like I had just exercised or jogged a couple miles. This is not light weight reading my friends, but it is also not a Mervyn Peake. Except for my occasional name problem, I found the philosophical bent and the very personal emotional descriptions to be captivating. Not only is Drusas Achamian one of the most tortured heroes I have come across, every character is given the same respect, if not depth. There are no one dimensional advance the plot and disappear characters in this series. Enjoy them all.

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from Australia

10-stars

I'm absolutely besotted and shocked to have found something that impresses after so long of not finding anything of quality. This book is so well written, that I found myself reading it without caring about the plot, it's word-candy. Not quite up to par with Steven Erikson, but has that same tone of doom and despair. You never read any passages where you think back on it as corny, or cliche, like what you get in most first-person narratives where the author will directly address his readers to further get his point accross. It's absolutely perfect. Not just in a fantasy fiction sense, but - like Erikson - he blends the perfect amount of philosophy throughout his narrative. If you are atheist or a nihilist, you will love it. I find it kind of silly that people will constantly compare good books with George R.R. Martins series a Song of Ice and Fire. Yeah, this series does keep your attention and is entertaining, but very overrated, written mostly blandly and not intellectually stimulating. It in no way compares to Scott Bakker or Steven Erikson.

9.3/10 from 2 reviews

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