Posted on Thursday, January 5th, 2006 at 2:28 pm under Fiction, Science Fiction / Fantasy

Title: The Darkness That Comes Before
Author: R. Scott Bakker
Genre: Fiction

Why I liked this book:

This book took a minute (or, more than a few minutes) to really hook me — it’s not an easy read, and many fantasy novels are really easy reads, so that startled me. It turns out that it starts slow because there’s a huge amount of history and culture and politics and religion to introduce to the reader, and Bakker does a great job of showing and not telling. Which takes time. But with that much worldbuilding, inverted character names, a complicated structure of gods and No-gods, a brand new variety of sorcery, several huge empires and a dozen distinct cultures to master, it took this reader a long time to feel comfortable in the world.

But you know what? It was worth it. This book resembles what you’d get if JRR Tolkien, Stephen Donaldson, China Mieville, and Jacqueline Carey sat down and wrote a fantasy novel. Epic scale, a broad cast of damaged characters, a healthy dose of weird, and a plot replete with politics, intrigue, emotion, and religion. I’m hooked.

I read a lot of fantasy, and a lot of it is interesting and fun, but not very good. This is interesting and fun, and it is good, from the worldbuilding, to the characters, to the character development, to the intertwining of plots, to the very strong sense that these are real people moving through a real world. Plus, I’m totally uncertain who the ‘good’ guys are, and I think our antihero might actually be a hero, and that our adversaries might be heroes in their own rights, too.

If that sounds like your cup of tea, give Bakker’s trilogy a look. This, first, volume is out in paperback, the second is still in hardcover, and the third is set to be released soon.

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