The Black Company by Glen Cook
The story starts in the middle of things and you feel like you started reading the book half way through. Plot holes are fairly obvious. It states that most of the company is killed, about 100 men. Then another dozen are killed. Thus I would assume there are only a few left and yet these few manage to kill 5000 men. Quite an unbelievable feat. Generally, the writing is quite good but I find it hard to read a story where the main characters are all amoralistic and serve evil. Just doesn't sit right with me.
Submitted by email@example.com
The Black Company is far from ordinary in any practical sense. I feel that many fantasy stories take upon a certain obligation to include various elements of the struggle between good and evil, which can then be translated into our own battles in life.
I feel the Black Company is much less "cut and dry". Its mystery and depth have left an impression on me that few books have really been able to do. Never have I felt so close to the characters or have felt that I have covered so much ground as the Black Company series.
I find that the side plots interweaving through the main story (which is a bit nebulous at times) to be highly entertaining. The odd characters introduced in addition to the main characters are what I found to be the most enjoyable. From what I remember that mostly was in the later books. The story itself is "very cool" and the initial struggle in the first three books is well worth reading about. However, as I said before I think that it was later on where I really got hooked.
Whats most refreshing is the departure from the Tolkienesque storytelling. I really loved the Lord of the Rings and still do. I think they are the best example of the genre. But the Black Company I love for a different reason... its not so much a departure from reality as it is an arrival. Its essence cannot be described by my crappy review alone(unfortunatly) ... you must read these books if you at all like fantasy/adventure.
Submitted by firstname.lastname@example.org
I have been reading fantasy genre books since high school. With over twenty years of experience in the hobby, I am pretty confident in my opinion of Glen Cook's Black Company Series. The beauty of the series lies in how Cook makes fantasy gritty and realistic. He draws you into a family of unlikely and unheroic heroes. Like the main character, the reader can actually develop fondness for toothless and disreputable types who'd stick a dagger in an innocent back for money. It's wierd, but you can actually buy the mercenary point of view in these books. You have to understand that I am a mother and an English teacher. You wouldn't think someone like me would be reading page after page after page hoping to see my "buddies," the Company, get out of another mess. AND, as an English teacher, I can really appreciate Glen Cook's use of voice. His technique of using first person for multiple characters is intriguing. What's more, he uses it with surprising effectiveness. I can recognize Croaker's voice, as well as Lady's, Murgen's and Sleepy's voices. I was completely blown away in Water Sleeps by Sleepy's intellectual detachment. It was a risky leap for Cook, since we all love Croaker's grumbly good humor, but it really worked for that book. I must say, however, as I enjoy the middle of Soldier's Live, that I am glad to have my old buddy Croaker back. I find myself slowing down so as not to lose him forever too soon. Cook is like Faulkner that makes sense. He is an earthy writer exploring alternate realities from several distinct points of view. You have to appreciate that.
Submitted by ASlowAvalanche@aol.com
I've been reading Glen Cook for a long time since, about his third book in the Black Company series, I was drawn to the larger than life characters and the gritty realism that fit a story of soldiers. The contrast between the everyman type mercenaries and the sorcerers who could do just about anything at will was profound. His characters lived and breathed and played tunk. They dug ditches and hoped that their friends wouldn't die when things got rough. Possibly the best thing about the series was the way he got better as writer as it went along. He grew right before our eyes, in my case right along with me since I started reading him in high school. One novel in particular was a quantum leap in his writing. Water Sleeps is the name if I recall correctly. Since then I think he has joined the upper echelon of fantasy writers. I wouldn't put him up there with George R.R. Martin and maybe not even R. Jordan but certainly among that crowd.
Submitted by Keith
I have read a lot of fantasy novels in my day, and "The Black Company" is by far the worst I have ever laid eyes on. I was recommended the book by a friend, and then looked at all the positive reviews on sffworld.com and thought it would be a good read. It was not. Horribly written, the style of writting is perfect for a 10 year old, but not if you enjoy the likes of tolkien, Jordan, Martin etc... I never once felt for any of the characters, and there was never any suspense in regards to the story line. The entire 300 pages went something like this... "After I woke up I heard a horn, the battle was on. When the battle was over and we won, I played cards. I did not win at cards. After cards I saw Raven and he had a face set in stone. Then the captian came and said we had better get some rest, so I went to bed."
Trust me, 300 pages of that gets old really quickly.
I give this novel 1 out of 5 because it was a complete waste of my time.