A Fantasy Series Book Review
By Glen Cook
Genre: Epic Fantasy, AdultPublisher's Blurb:
Publisher: Tor Fantasy (March 15, 1992)
Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
Read an Excerpt
Some feel the Lady, newly risen from centuries in thrall, stands between humankind and evil. Some feel she is evil itself. The hardbitten men of the Black Company take their pay and do what they must, burying their doubts with their dead.The Black Company is a pleasant change from your typical heroic epic fantasy. This is the story of a band of mercenaries who (in the nature of all mercenaries) is not concerned about the morals of a war, just how much it pays! Croaker who is both doctor and annalist (current keeper of the extensive annals of the Black Company) tells the story. I have to admit, it was fun reading a story as told by the peons and as told by the "bad guys!"
Until the prophesy: The White Rose has been reborn, somewhere, to embody good once more.
There must be a way for the Black Company to find her...
This first story (I hear they get better) was hard for me to get into at first. I felt like I had been dropped into the middle of a conversation where everybody knew what was going on but me. The geographic references threw me off, the references to the countries, governments and people involved took me a bit to put in their proper places. Once I did sort of figure things out (Glen Cook does not believe in maps so that could not help me) I realized that the war itself was a case of evil verses lesser evil, and even then you are not sure which side is worse! Like I said, definitely a different type of story.
The characters are great. Each has a very distinct personality. The wizards that travel with the company are simply priceless and at times hilarious. It can be dark and tragic; it is war after all, people die and often in horrible ways. The current employers of the Black Company are also very dark and have a large range of both benign and destructive powers. This tale literally bristles with battles both magical and mundane. It also does a good job of portraying the human side of war. The fear, the disgust for what they sometimes have to do or witness, the tension, and the politics from inside a military unit all come across naturally. So does the loyalty and unity that is created by living with men whose very lives depend each other daily. It is a very well written portrait of the day-to-day life of a mercenary band.
The plot has promise. Aside from the war between what appears to be two evil forces, there is a prophecy that promises hope and hints that before it is over, the Black Company will find itself trapped between honoring its oaths to the Lady and her henchmen and the prophecy that could save them all. I will have to wait and see if my take is correct!
Definitely adult in tone and content. Plenty of profanity, death, black magic, and gallows humor, as benefit the subject matter. For most of this story, the balance of power between the two forces who are at war shifts, keeping the tension high. There is mystery, humor, and brotherhood combined with horror, death, and hardship. If you are looking for something different and engrossing to read, I recommend this series. Great read for military fantasy fans who like a dark tale where the protagonists are not trying to be heroes, they feel lucky if they just manage to survive; where it is not about right, and wrong, it is about honoring your oaths.
Other books in the series
Shelfari Rating 4+/5
Librarything Rating 4.01/5
Amazon Rating 4 out of 5 stars
(150 Customer Reviews)
What Should I Read Next?
Buy Book: B&N - Powells - Abe Books
Amazon: US Canada UK