Thursday, February 17, 2011

Snared by The Darkness That Comes Before; a reading challenge update

Book 20: The Darkness That Comes Before by R. Scott Bakker

As a rule I avoid the fantasy series by such prolific authors as Robert Jordan and George R. R. Martin. I am put off by the impossible to pronounce names of characters as well as the length of the individual books that stretch into yet another book and yet another.

So how did I find myself in my current situation? I just finished reading The Darkness That Comes Before by R. Scott Bakker. I find myself 577 pages into his The Prince of Nothing series and I still have two books to read.

How did I wind up in this situation? My oldest son sent me the series as a Christmas present. My youngest is thrilled, waxing enthusiastically about the characters in this fantasy trilogy that he claims is his “favorite.”

The call of blood must be answered.

Yet, I admit to some reluctance even after I started reading. The convention for a fantasy series of this nature demands that the significance of the book’s opening be murky. Who is this man? His mission? Who are these people? What is this world? How the fuck do you pronounce this name?

Yet within 100 pages, perhaps fewer, I found myself totally absorbed by this story of a great Holy War, of magicians and mighty barbarian warriors. Bakker’s feat in fashioning this world and this cast of characters is impressive. The book is totally absorbing and, despite its vast size, a quick read because of the author’s skill in pacing and in storytelling.

So much so that I within minutes of taking down book one I have taken up book two.

And as with me, so with you, there is more to come, my friends, Much more. In the fullness of time.

+ + +

The completion of The Darkness That Comes Before advances me in two reading challenges that I have taken up in 2011.

The first challenge was issued by The Roof Beam Reader. The 2011 TBR (To Be Read) Pile Challenge is to read 12 books from your to-be-read pile in 12 months. I have read two of my 12 since undertaking the challenge. This is where I stand:

1. Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
2. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
3. War and Peace by Mr. Tolstoy
4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
5. The Darkness That Comes Before by R. Scott Bakker
6. Under the Dome by Stephen King
7. White Noise by Don Delillo
8. Yogi Berra Eternal Yankee by Allen Barra
9. The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies
10. Winter in the Blood by James Welch
11. Human Croquet by Kate Atkinson
12. Emotionally Weird by Kate Atkinson

Reservation Road by John Burnham Schwartz
Tales of Burning Love by Louise Erdrich

Further progress in this challenge awaits the completion of Bakker’s Prince of Nothing series.

The second challenge is the Chunkster Challenge, specifically the “Mor-book-ly Obese Challenge. I am attempting to reading eight books all with a minimum page count of 450 pages and three of those eight must be at least 750 pages.

Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove weighed in at more than 900 pages. Bakker’s The Darkness That Comes Before (paperbound) was 577 pages (not counting appendices).

Six books remaining in this challenge, two of more than 750 pages.

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