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The Black Company by Glen Cook
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The Black Company (1984)

by Glen Cook

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Chronicles of the Black Company (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,494394,962 (3.88)83
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    NickBlasta: While existing in a different genre, the story of a company of fighting men is quite similar.
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  5. 00
    The Deepest Sea by Charles Barnitz (Dragget)
    Dragget: Good dialogue and realistic combat. The humor is similar also.
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    Cecrow: Another fantasy tale told from the typically opposing side.
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» See also 83 mentions

English (36)  French (2)  Italian (1)  All languages (39)
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
Ok, normally I’m one of those people who likes to finish my books, even if I don’t completely love them (see the entirety of the Maze Runner Trilogy). I like to know how things end, because sometimes good books have slow beginnings, and gems can be found if you just give them a chance.

This is the exception to the rule.

I’m sorry. I’m 50 pages into this book and I don’t think I can stomach reading anymore of it. It’s confusing, the prose is bland and boring, the characters lack any real depth, and the plot? I’m not even sure what’s happening. A friend asked me to read this because it’s one of his favorite books and when he asked me how far I was, I couldn’t even say because I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT HAD HAPPENED. The plot is episodic, things happen but I’m not quite clear on WHAT is happening (like, wtf, where did a freaking wereleopard come from and now we’ve captured the wereleopard but we’re killing this faction of the army while they sleep and someone tell me WHYYYYYY).

I think the premise had potential. A story from the bad guy’s point of view? Hell yes. But this is not good. This is not interesting, the characters are just names and I still have no idea who is who and why people are being poisoned and they set bees after some guy???

Just, no. Sorry. I’m done. I’m throwing in the towel. I’m moving on to something worth reading. ( )
  BookishMatters | Feb 27, 2014 |
It reads like a firsthand account of war straight out of a high school textbook. It doesn't shy away from any reality, even while it weaves an incredibly immersive fantasy setting. I really didn't think I'd like it because of some of the darker details and my own general squeamishness, but I truly did.
Okay, points of interest: one, we have a very interesting narrator. He's a sellsword historian medic. Yes, these things can work together and create a very viable narrator. I really liked Croaker, and he told the story in the best way possible, by being able to believably travel from the thick of the action to the relative safety of a makeshift hospital and the battlefield observations he makes. He feels incredibly real, not whitewashed or stereotypical. He is not entirely likeable--he does some very sick things--but ultimately you end up liking him anyway. I think part of that is because he rest of the Company likes him and you're hoping that at least one character you've spent time with survive his mess, and part of it is because you can't help but empathize a little bit with him and all his familiar human foibles. He's not a hero, but I get the strangest impression that he's not done cooking yet.
The plot was pretty darned good. It is one long military campaign and stays very exciting for the most part. The final battle was awesome, and it was kind of disappointing that the reader doesn't get to see the actual end of it, disturbing though it would have been. There were one or two slow points, and there's one ultimately predictable RPG style twist right at the end that had me rolling my eyes before I saw it actually carried out. I have to admit, Mr. Cook did such a good job of telling that part of the story that I didn't even mind that I'd guessed.
The writing itself is also good, and I actually liked the fact that sometimes Croaker just leaves things out. It makes you really pay attention to the writing, and it often brought out a lot of suspense that wouldn't have been there otherwise. Plus it was in keeping with the narrator and the Company's proclivities of not saying things straight, and it helped you get to know Croaker. On the subject of suspense, there's really something to be said for a narrator who constantly keeps you in suspense about whether or not he's going to do the 'right thing' or even if you know what the 'right thing' is with how limited the presented information is. Overall, I think the best argument for this book is that I was looking forward to doing other things today and instead I'm going straight to book 2. So much for that plan.
But man, I liked this. Been a while since I read adult fantasy that got me so interested. On that note, any Game of Thrones fans should give this a look. Probably'll be right up their ally! ( )
  Inkwind | Jan 4, 2014 |
The Black Company is an elite mercenary unit under a new commander: The Lady. Some say she stand between humankind and evil. To others she is evil itself. Either way the Company has a job to do and do it they will.

It took me a little while to get into this book. The Black Company is a combination of fantasy and gritty military fiction. It's told from the first person perspective of the Company doctor and historian, Croaker. The tale is told more like a battle/travel log then a regular fantasy story as we're taken through a series of events instead of a typical plot. Everything works together by the end though it feels fairly random in the beginning. I am intrigued enough that I think I will continue this series. ( )
  Narilka | Dec 1, 2013 |
My only complaint is that the writing is inert and bloodless. Combines words together into sentences but there is no animating life behind them.
  knownever | Nov 29, 2013 |
Brief Summary: The mercenary, rough sailors of the Black Company find themselves under the command of a new employer—a woman called The Lady, who may have darker plans for them than they could have ever imagined.

The Tsundoku Scale: Middle of the Pile, 7 out of 10.

The Good: The tale of the Black Company is an interesting one, told by Croaker, the Black Company’s doctor and annals keeper. It is a fast-paced book of short sentences, and even shorter tempers, as war rages on with the Black Company stuck right in the middle of it, holding on to their lives only by their own cunning. Croaker is really a splendid character, with his wry and dry humor. He is the quintessential unreliable narrator; for, while he writes the annals of the narrative that the reader is reading, he often chooses to omit and include details at his own whims. He even mentions at one point that he has chosen to omit many of the atrocities that the Black Company commits because he does not like to show them in a negative light. You like the characters, you sympathize the characters, and yet you still get the feeling that you don’t really know them. Cook does a great job pushing and pulling the reader between familiarity and aloofness with the characters. What’s also oddly thrilling about this book is that there is no real back story. There are prophecies, supernatural beings, and magic, but the reader is only granted slight glimpses of this history. Croaker seems to neglect to tell the reader of certain facts mostly becaus these facts are already common knowledge to those characters in the story. It takes a while to get used to things just happening matter of factly without much explanation, but, in this way, the reader is never caught up in the epic of good against evil. Instead, this otherworldly battle is but a side note to Croaker’s and the Black Company’s story, and for once the reader is truly controlled by the whims of the narrator, and Croaker gives the reader’s a thrilling ride.

The Bad: Many praise the Black Company for its divergence from a typical fantasy book. The book filters out the high-end, elaborate telling of most general fantasies from the dirty trenches of war, but unlike most fantasies, it wants to leave you with the dregs. Nonetheless, this praise is not particularly justifiable. For “just an average person,” Croaker plays quite a role from the weight his opinion has in the Black Company’s decision-making, to the fact that The Lady, the most powerful being in the world, takes a special interest in him, going as far to contact him personally. Croaker may be a normal man without magic or special abilities, but his life is certainly anything from normal, and the idea of this book being a different kind of fantasy is certainly misleading. What’s more, it can often be frustrating how little Cook stays within the limits of his own narration. Though Croaker is supposed to be telling the story through the annals that he has written, often those rules of the story are broken and instead the story transforms into a present narrative, rather than the re-telling it is supposed to be.

Check out www.tsundokureviews.wordpress.com for more great reviews! ( )
  Matt8000 | Jul 4, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Glen Cookprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Berdak, KeithCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
This one is for the people of the St. Louis Science Fiction Society. Love you all.
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There were prodigies and portents enough, One-Eye says. We must blame ourselves for misinterpreting them. One-Eye’s handicap in no way impairs his marvelous hindsight.
Quotations
No one will sing songs in our memory. We are the last of the Free Companies of Khatovar. Our traditions and memories live only in these Annals. We are our only mourners.
"Evil is relative, Annalist. You can't hang a sign on it. You can't touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812521390, Mass Market Paperback)

Some feel the Lady, newly risen from centuries in thrall, stands between humankind and evil. Some feel she is evil itself. The hard-bitten men of the Black Company take their pay and do what they must, burying their doubts with their dead.
 
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...
 
So begins one of the greatest fantasy epics of our age—Glen Cook's Chronicles of the Black Company.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:52:46 -0400)

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