The Darkness that comes before is one of those books that is really difficult to review. The reason is simple it just does everything so well that there really isn't much to say.
The premise is this a holy war has been declared by the shriah of the thousand temples to wrest back control of the holy city of Shimeah from the heathens. Sorcerer, Drusas Achamian has been sent to investigate and see if his school, the mandate's, long lost enemies the consult are involved. The consult were involved in a catastrophic event thousands of years earlier known as the first apocalypse and the mandate fear a second such event. There are a host of other points of view from a number of characters the most important of which include an emperor, Krijates Xinemus who hopes to use the holy war to gain back lost pieces of his empire. An aging prostitute Esmenet who is in love with Achamian and is looking for her own adventure. A monk, Anasûrimbor Kellhus who is looking to find and kill his father. A barbarian warrior Cnaiur urs Skiotha who is also looking to kill the monk's father for tricking him into helping kill his own father decades earlier. As you can see each character has their own stories and agendas. In that respect this book is remisecent of the Malazan books with the diverging plot lines, although Bakker does a much better job than Erickson in bringing them together.
The world Bakker creates is very similar to our own ancient world with some very interesting parallels. The royal court of Xinemus has a very persian or ptlomeic feel to it. While Skiotha's people are much like mongels. If you like your fantasy full of intrigue and three dimensional characters give Bakker's first book a try. As for myself I look forward to reading the rest of the prince of nothing trilogy. 8/10