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Thread: The Darkness That Comes Before
November 29th, 2005, 10:44 PM #16
hello all .. first post. when i first bought the darkness that comes before, i really thought it was the best thing i had ever read in the fantasy or sci-fi genre (next to dune). i still do, but right now i'm really digging stephen king's dark tower series.
off topic a bit, i'd just like to say i think it's really cool that scott can interact with his fan-base like this. awesome, man.
December 2nd, 2005, 08:24 AM #17
I just finished this. I was prompted to read it by the enthusiasm for the book on here......and I have to say it was awful........NAH, I only said that because I saw Scott Bakker was reading. I thought it was tremendous, intelligent, insightful, engaging, fresh and rang a lot of historical bells.
I love the Byzantine empire analogue, our Mongol friends, the collapsed Western Roman Empire in the North..brilliantly done...on then to Jerusalem.
Oh and I enjoyed the sneaky Conan the Barbarian near quote from Cnaiur (sp?). I've got the next book lined up.
December 2nd, 2005, 08:39 AM #18Originally Posted by Boll Weevil
December 2nd, 2005, 11:57 AM #19
- Join Date
- Jul 2001
- Hobbit Towers, England
- Blog Entries
A little 'heads up'.... The Darkness that Comes Before is the Fantasy Book Club's Book of the Month for December 2005 (Try saying that with a mouthful of pizza! )
If you want to join in, the link's HERE.
Scott won't bite...much... at least not without asking first.
December 7th, 2005, 10:24 PM #20
Just one last reminder that TDTCB is the book club book for this month. The discussion can be found at the link Hobbit posted above. Please come by and have a talk if you have anything to say.
Last edited by Erfael; December 8th, 2005 at 10:43 AM.
December 8th, 2005, 06:41 PM #21
WARNING: *May contain information that could be considered spoilers.* (Though I’m probably just talking to the choir, at this point.)
Well I finished Darkness and here’s my take on it (which I imagine is much like some others.) I read the first part of the prologue and found the story of the boy in the fortress intriguing and nicely told. Then I got to the part about Kellhaus wandering through the wilderness and I’ll admit, I groaned. Please, please don’t let all the characters be like this, I thought, or this massive book will be a slog. It wasn’t that I didn’t find what was happening with Kellhaus interesting, but if what was happening had turned out to be that he was torn apart by a pack of wild dingos, I’d have enjoyed it.
But by the time I got to the first chapter, I realized I’d been given a thorough briefing on what this imaginary world was like and substantial background information, which was rather a neat trick. (Although okay, I did peek at the glossaries in the back.) And I needn’t have worried about the other characters, for “Slosh” would never do something as easy as producing characters who are similar to each other.
Darkness is perhaps one of the most political fantasy novels I’ve ever encountered. It is also deeply psychological, of course, delving into the inner workings of each character and pitting differing views against each other. Rather than the trappings of fantasy, Scott goes for the mindset. If you’re a writer and you want to study how character pov can be used, especially in illuminating and falsely illuminating other characters, Scott is a good guy to study. (Not that he doesn’t have bloodthirsty action too.) There are numerous echoes of our past (and current) history in the exploration of how leaders sway others and lead armies into battle, yet the story stands on its own rather than just as allegory. You’ll catch whiffs of numerous cultures – Byzantine, Arabic, ancient Asia, but they’ve been hammered into a more concentrated, battle-weary landscape.
Characters: Besides a truly creepy and raw super-evil that reminds one of alien invasion movies, Scott pulls off a talented piece of showmanship in making most of his champions actual villains. Who you root for. As they fight each other. Even Achamian, the more traditional noble scholar type wizard, is a bit of a dodgy, weak-willed spy sneak (but in a good way.) As an unreliable, deluded but experienced and dedicated guide, he’s a lovely, complex character.
Esmenet – I disagree with Leiali’s earlier comments; I think she’s an incredibly feminist character. She is someone living in a box, scarred by her life and her daughter’s death, who then goes through more horror out into the world. Her wits, her passion and her determination to be part of something larger than herself are all very feminist and interesting to watch, as her fortunes go up and down. Now Serwe – I know Scott has plans for her, but if she dies a horrible death somewhere in the trilogy, I can live with that. Yeesh.
Cnaiur – Scott’s Wolverine. Except he’s one who really does, er, nasty things. Like Shrek, he’s an onion – he has layers and it’s great to see each one peel off as he stomps through, like Conan’s nightmare. After Xerius, he’s my favorite character. Xerius is, as far as I’m concerned, a tour de force. Certainly he’s the most fun fantasy emperor I’ve ever gotten to read about.
Kellhaus – For me, Kellhaus’ inner philosophy natterings do bog down the pacing a bit. But. The flashbacks of Kellhaus’ monk training, while a little routine, are smartly done, and Kellhaus’ anxieties about his father, and his battle of wits with some of the other characters – chiefly Cnaiur – are deftly handled and great fun to read. Who knew madness could be such an obstacle to mind control? And come on, you’ve got to love that the savior of the story is a trained sociopath. (Although the historic parallels may leave you a little queasy.) So I made my peace with him somewhere in the middle of the book and now enjoy watching his campaigns. (I don’t think Scott wants anyone to be particularly peaceful about any of his characters, though.)
Darkness is a very, very dark novel, and it’s not going to be for every fantasy fan. It is also an out-and-out, no holds barred, ball-busting war novel by someone who likes to do tightly controlled loop-de-loops with characterization and switch directions with slap-your-face plot events. (Warning: don’t drink anything when you’re reading it, as you’re likely to do a spit-take at any time.) It’s impressive, most of all because every time you think Scott might be about to fall on his face, he turns around and pulls off something involving. The man takes risks. And this first novel doesn’t even reveal much about the mysterious Cishaurim yet, and you just know they’re going to turn over the whole kettle of fish. (Well, certainly those of you who are on to the next book know that.) So, no more cranberry juice while reading “The Warrior-Prophet.”
Now I'm going to go check out the book club people.
January 16th, 2006, 05:41 PM #22
- Join Date
- May 2005
pov pov... a chunky reply (above^), and if only folks were not so easily put off...
Well, I'll be darned... like unto a large woollen sock that envelopes the envelope that is the sum of my thoughts... "The Darkness That Comes Before" has 'hit' me as some kind of analogy that is simply too complex to state sanely and so brielfy as I'd wish. My point? My point is this book either 'hits' you or you miss 'it'. For me: Im thinking Paul Glimcher (NY University) and Jiddu Krishnamurti ('the teacher').
I am thinking.
I like it.
[Edit: Hmmm, pondered overly... and left as originally posted ]
Last edited by Hieroglyph; January 16th, 2006 at 08:33 PM.
January 17th, 2006, 09:35 PM #23
I once had to hunt a woollen sock. I never did find it.I think it was with all the other single socks and pens in the twilight world of the impossibly lost
March 27th, 2006, 04:05 PM #24
- Join Date
- Dec 2005
just finished Darkness last night.
first of all, the ending left me wanting. it's just one of those endings that make you look forward to the next book.
Kellhus, definitely, is one of the most violent characters i've seen. of course, in this statement, violence doesn't only happen physically. what he can do to people, and their thinking, is definitely terrifying. and knowing that he is the main character... this is definitely interesting.
Achamian is the character (among all the books i've read) that any person can identify with the most. the most "human" and "real" character created, IMO.
im looking forward to book2 now...
March 28th, 2006, 12:19 AM #25
I agree 100%. Khellus totally makes me uneasy, it's almost unbearable to read about him at times, but it's so good I can't stop! And Achamian is my favorite character for the exact reasons you mention.
March 28th, 2006, 10:46 AM #26
Just re read snippets of KatG's post, and it made me think, does Scott know that noone likes Serwe? I feel a bit guilty about it now.
March 28th, 2006, 11:14 AM #27
Oh I think Scott is very aware of it. That's part of the point of her character, I suspect. I don't dislike Serwe in many ways. Her background, for instance, is quite interesting, and she has traditional types of courage, which give her a sympathetic edge of sorts. She's being used and brutalized, and you can feel sorry for her on that alone. She's clearly going to play an important role in the story and her growing fanaticism and her symbolic significance for both Kellhaus and Cnaiur, offer intense aspects to the overall novel.
But, when the child opens her mouth, the dialogue makes me want to swat her.
March 29th, 2006, 10:52 AM #28
I know what you mean. It may be that as a symbol of whatever is required by Kelhus or Cnauir, she achieves some importance, but in being a symbol, she loses some substance; A two dimensional object that is imbued only with qualities bestowed by others. Qualities she may or may not possess.
March 31st, 2006, 06:07 PM #29
Maybe, though I'm not sure I see her as so much two-dimensional. She and Esmenet share a number of similar qualities -- ambition to be part of something big, dedicated love, loss of a child -- which may be deliberate -- but Esmenet, at least so far, shows more experience of the world, more awareness and more independent thinking. She understands the flaws in her lover, for instance, whereas by the end of the story, Serwe would happily kill someone if Kellhaus told her to. With Serwe very quickly grown fanatical, she becomes not a flat character, but a tiresome one.
Still, like with all Scott's characters, I'm not really sure what she's going to do next. But if that next involves getting toasted in one of the later books, like I said, I'm okay with that.
April 10th, 2006, 02:01 AM #30
At last I'm in the world everybody praises! I've read a quarter of it already and I have the mixed feelings of the beginner. My first impression: "My God, Kelhus is the main character!!!" I was really disturbed.
But then all the intrigues came and the politics on a masive scale. I like that. And I am still waiting to see how Kelhus will fit in. And for the first time ever I'm not sure I want to see the main character. I mean I want but I want to like him and I doubt I'll be able. He is too egocentric. To the point of selfishness.
Or at least that's what I gathered from the very beginning. I hope this will change in future.