I liked this book better than the first one. I felt extremely engaged by what was happening to Achamian, Cnaiur, and even Xinemus, while in The Darkness That Comes Before I didn't feel too connected to any of the male characters. Unfortunately, the female characters, although still interesting, were somewhat less interesting than they were in the first book, which I found to be a shame. I did, however, feel that Bakker showed the women to be believable people who had well-defined and individual characteristics, dispersing the nagging sense of sexism I got from the first book. All the rape and prostitution in the first book was there for a reason after all, and not to simply make the story "grittier".
Although I noticed a number of inconsistencies in the perspective shifts of the narrative, I found that on the whole the jumps from omniscient "battle-view" to third-person limited-omniscient "character-view" served their purpose and enhanced the story. The large-scale war scenes were very reminiscent of The Iliad and were very entertaining to read. I also loved Achamian's dream sequences in this book. The No-God and his forces are terrifyingly cool, and those scenes left a lingering impression on me.
One doesn't have to read too deeply to see the parallels between this story and the real-world conflict between Judaism/Christianity and Islam, but I'm fine with that, as Bakker doesn't seem to be taking sides. There are clearly no good guys and no bad guys in this Holy War, which strikes me as a fairly realistic approach. War, as the soldiers tell us, is hell.