Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Darkness That Comes Before Book Review

The Darkness That Comes Before
The Prince of Nothing Book 1
R. Scott Bakker

This is one of those books that I picked up a thousand times, read through the first few chapters, only to set it down at page 75 due to its lack...well, due to my lack of interest. I think I actually read to page 100 three times, but its taken a full year for me to get the balls to read it all the way through.

Unfortunately my feelings about the book didn't change much after I finished it. It was almost always a chore to pick it up, and that is why The Darkness That Comes Before was listed under "Currently Reading" for five weeks... And now that I am finished with the book, I am a little interested as to why so many people are recommending it.

Of course, I have to give Bakker credit--his book is smart, but there are too many layers for me to really comprehend (I probably sound like an idiot, but that's inevitable, so don't worry about it). It is possible that people a little smarter than I get a kick out of this jazz, because, it really is jazzy in a tilted, dark, unpredictable way. Unfortunately none of that jazz caught my attention. It was an extremely boring read for me. Maybe if I was looking for the book's subtle attempts to mean life, then I might have enjoyed it a little more. Instead I was constantly looking for an end, all the way up until the actual end, when I just felt a great deal of disappointment.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think Bakker actually did something wrong, instead I think that I just didn't find anything personally gratifying about The Darkness That Comes Before. I would think that this is one book you either fancy or you don't, and at first a didn't. But there is something fine about this book, and it's assembly of words that I cannot ignore. So I guess I didn't enjoy the reading, but now after pondering the book for a few days, I don't know if I liked it or not.

As for the actual writing, it is near brilliant. The characters are developed, galling, monstrous, and, except for the strange face stealing creature-people, extremely human. In fact, its probably their extraordinary ability to be human that irritates me; I just don't like imagining the aliens floating in space, carefully jotting down notes, and coming up with a book like The Darkness That Comes Before. If we are all just power hungry, lusty and confused men seeking for a pair of open legs, then its a sad thing to do the human, and I object. I believe that there are things the aliens cannot easily paint--like R. Scott Bakker writing The Prince of Nothing, and me reading it...

Back to the book...

Even though the world is detailed, with civilizations, religions, and individuals, I'm disappointed that Bakker didn't explain more about the magic system. I like the idea of the Chorae, a Trinket that shields against magic, but I want to know more about the actual magic. And I guess I can't say much more, because the longer I write the more my opinion changes of this book.

So, for being a genius, maniacal writer, Bakker gets a 10 out of 10. For actually entertaining me, The Darkness That Comes Before gets only a 3. Although, it has been four days since I finished and I am still thinking about it, so that if you think that warrants a new rating, then you can be the judge.


Note: This book is actually very good, it was just boring because I am somewhat of a casual reader, someone who enjoys reading word after word, instead of layers. I don't really know if I should recommend it or not. I guess that thought is interesting enough for me to make the recommend. Go on. Read it. And please tell me you enjoyed it more than I did.

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