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A Cruel Wind: A Chronicle of the Dread Empire (edition 2007)

by Glen Cook

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273441,545 (3.76)8
Member:AHS-Wolfy
Title:A Cruel Wind: A Chronicle of the Dread Empire
Authors:Glen Cook
Info:Night Shade Books (2007), Edition: Revised edition, Paperback, 600 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
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Tags:Fantasy, Dread Empire, TBR

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A Cruel Wind: A Chronicle Of The Dread Empire by Glen Cook

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Odd, even somewhat bland, an epic fantasy without a hero. Not even an anti-hero. A study in the wars of kingdoms over timescales of a couple of centuries maybe. You can't even really assign one of the kingdoms as 'good', they are somewhat interchangeable backdrops. Characters come, die and get replaced. A few old sorcerers linger on. The dread Empire of the series name is perhaps the constant opposition, but we also spend plenty of time with individuals over there, and none of them are particularly different from the Westerners.

The book opens with a young boy watching his mother being executed for the crime of witchcraft. He goes on to grow up on a farm (although the whole pig-boy learning the trials of life bit is skipped entirely) before learning the magical arts and seeking his revenge. Apparently he learnt the Arts from the Eastern country very similar to China. He casts a divination over his fate and learns he will wed a beautiful aloof woman - when she is born a couple of centuries later. She is the sister to some Storm Mages, (minor wizards) and we follow them for a while as they seek their revenge against a city that overthrew their ancestors. This goes awry and the woman marries an itinerant joker. The wizard is not amused - but bestows on her long life, with the promise to marry him next, when the joker dies. In return the wizard promises to help keep the joker alive. Part of the cause of the upset to the Storm Mages plans was an intervention from those Eastern powers that had supplied the wizards training. Time passes. The Joker is one of the childhood friends on one Braggi Ragnuson (just about he only name I could remember in the whole book, far too many of the others were far too similar). Braggi, now in his thirties is summoned as a mercenary to a small border kingdom. Here he helps defend Royal succession and discover yet more plots from the Easterners. This brings the joker and the various wizards altogether for the final battle. The survivors carry on.

The somewhat dry summary above gives a good feel for how the plot develops - the narrative voice moves forward from one character to another, and very rarely returns to check upon the older ones, although they continue to appear in the tale. People fall in love without the romance or courtship being described, and the elder children take up their father' mantles in the long going saga. None of the numerous battles are described in detail (hardly anything from the magic to the landscape is described in any detail). There are no swords slashed in uppercuts, no archers waiting for the balls of their eyes, just we attacked on the flanks and withdrew suffering casualties.

All that said it remains quick reading and strangely engrossing. You have to be fairly familiar with the fantasy genre to appreciate it, despite the lack of non-humans apart form a brief mention of dragons, and some magical constructs. Here it also suffers from a common problem in longlived fantasy worlds. After a few centuries, no-one anywhere has developed any more advanced from of technology. No industrialisation, no development, just the same medival background for centuary after centuary. There's suspension of disbelief, and then there is taking things too far.

It certainly isn't high literary prose, but it does give a good overview of the strategies of the long-lived from both sides, and also how these impact individuals along the way. Not ground-breaking stuff, but good enough. ( )
  reading_fox | Feb 29, 2012 |
This is a giant 3 in 1 collection of novels in the Dread Empire series. Once you realize it is actually 3 different novels, this makes more sense, as Part 1 introduces a character that gets almost completely forgotten in book 2, and is a role player in book 3.
If you are familiar with Glen Cook, then you will be familiar with this style of fantasy novel. Gritty, realistic politics and warfare at the 'low fantasy' level, with a mix of individual and army action, but where heroic figures play a role in both. Wizardry, armies and politics mix to make a sometimes confusing mess of plot, but it all flows together at the end. Getting to that end can sometimes be slow, especially when politics takes over, but the military sections of the book are really excellent. Don't expect the story to be over at the end of this book though, it isn't. ( )
  Karlstar | May 14, 2009 |
A Cruel Wind is an omnibus edition of The Dream Empire trilogy, detailing the growing conflict between East and West in this particular secondary world - but focusing more on characters in the latter. Armies clash, wizards plot, assassins and monsters abound, along with other strangeness. Very consistent in quality.

This Night Shade webscription is a fantastic deal, for a 3-in-1.

A Shadow Of All Night Falling

The first Dream Empire books focuses heavily on Nepanthe and The Mocker - or whatever he wanted to call himself at the time - and their relationship.

Also the wizard Varthlokkur and his desire for the same woman.

One odd trickster-thief character, one noble, one wizard. Then the conflict that swirls around them with figures like Haroun and Ragnarson and others being introduced - and the strange, like the Star Rider.

It culminates in a different sort of bloody ending.

3.5 out of 5

October's Baby

A higher level story than the first book, if you like, as Ragnarson and friends go from low level positions to being influential leaders in major military and political roles.

Details the conflict between those opposed to, and with elements of the Dread Empire - which has its own pair of antagonistic leaders pulling it in two directions.

3.5 out of 5

All Darkness Met

Ragnarson and friends are older - and this novel starts with him finally tracking down the Mocker, and inviting him to the annual celebration, because he has a job for him.

Tensions exist in local and international politics amongst the allies.

Then there's the Dread Empire.

When assassins come calling for Ragnarson's family, he decides to act, and these actions lead to lots and lots of war, including the biggest battle they have seen.

Wizards lob powers and monsters at each other, armies slaughter each other, and not sure if anyone knows what the Star Rider is actually up to.

The best of this Dread Empire trilogy.

3.5 out of 5

4.5 out of 5

http://notfreesf.blogspot.com/2009/02/cruel-wind-glen-cook.html ( )
  bluetyson | Feb 2, 2009 |
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Glen Cookprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Swanland, RaymondCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vandermeer, JeffIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Before there was Black Company, there was the Dread Empire, an omnibus collection the first three Dread Empire novels: A Shadow of All Night's Falling, October's Baby and All Darkness Met.

(summary from another edition)

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