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The Black Company by Glen Cook

The Black Company (1984)

by Glen Cook

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Chronicles of the Black Company (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,673454,286 (3.86)87
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English (41)  French (2)  Italian (1)  All languages (44)
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
At times the story dragged a bit and as soon as it is first mentioned the whole time a reader has a very important thing constantly thrown in the face while the characters don't have a clue about it even though it is the only logical conclusion.

The Black Company are mercenaries, working for whoever hires them. This particular commision is recorded and told by Croaker, the Company's Annalist. He is also their physician. His job is to write down everything that happens to the Company as a whole, but also whatever happens to ordinary men. "We are the last of the Free Companies of Khatovar. Our traditions and memories live only in these Annals." Croaker is very dedicated to his job. He needs to tell each man's story ("I was almost neurotically anxious that some men had been lost and would be forgotten.The Company is our family.")This record tells about an ancient evil and her ten companions. One of them is Soulcatcher, the Company's employer. "The Captain settled beside me. “Tell me, Croaker.”
So I told him about the Domination, and the Dominator and his Lady. Their rule had spanned an empire of evil unrivalled in Hell. I told him about the Ten Who Were Taken (of whom Soulcatcher was one), ten great wizards, near-demigods in their power, who had been overcome by the Dominator and compelled into his service. I told him about the White Rose, the lady general who had brought the Domination down, but whose power had been insufficient to destroy the Dominator,
his Lady, and the Ten. She had interred the lot in a charm-bound barrow somewhere north of the sea."
Now the Lady and her Taken are in the world again. Of course, there are those who want to fight them.
Even though I wanted the evil to fall, to be punished somehow for the horrible things that have been done in its name, I was still worrying about the main characters. They are not good, they are not without flaws. They are truly mercenaries, but as the events in this story show, mercenaries with a soul. I think this is the first book I've read that the main characters are fighting on the wrong side. ( )
  Irena. | Nov 3, 2015 |
I'm not in a great state to be reviewing this, but I did enjoy it. A band of hard-bitten mercenaries fighting for the side of evil in a grand manichean conflict - except the rebels aren't really all that great, either. Lots of magic and action and hard-bitten attitudes. The language veers a bit into vaguely Vietnam War-ishness without really using it to make a point other than the universality of manly bonding over casual atrocities, but it's quite clever and keeps it at grunt-level albeit awesome fighting mercs-with-a-shred-of-honour grunts while everyone else gets ground up and slaughtered by the thousands. ( )
  Nigel_Quinlan | Oct 21, 2015 |
err... probably I shouldn't have gotten this in audio format - in paper format I could have skimmed the pages and pages of descriptive babble. Actually, I shouldn't have gotten it in paper format either. It should have stayed on the bookshelf.

There is no real plot - it's just a bunch of blah-blah about some mercenaries and the battles they get into. The author is very descriptive and explains every detail, for example, about swinging a sword in battle and how it impacts and what happens after it impacts, and so on. It is not graphic though, just overly detailed. It's kinda like Cook wanted to copy Joe Abercrombie's work in its wordiness and focus on the steps involved in completing a task, but written for a YA audience, so there is no blood or guts or bad words. Oh, and there is no sense that justice is being sought, and no vigilante action... it's a straight up "group of men with various magical powers go to A and kill people, then go to B and are attacked, then go to C and have a battle"... ad nauseam. We don't know why they are doing this (other than it's their job), and we don't care since they aren't trying to right any wrongs, or solve any problems.

So, essentially, it is long and boring and who really cares what happens to these wordily-described characters? Although there are pages and pages devoted to describing what they look like and their actions (i.e. they play cards a lot... yes, he describes their card games... "Goblin played card A, Bob played card B")....they are all cutouts, except maybe the main character, and he's only fleshed out because he talks incessantly. Literally - talks incessantly - about everything: "person A did this and person B did that and person C laughed"... and so on. Too bad we don't care.

If you like the premise of dark/violent fantasy, try anything by Abercrombie (extremely dark) , or Brett's Warded Man (less violent than Abercrombie), or even Weeks' Way of Shadows... All of them are what this book seems to be trying to be.

I won't be reading any more in the series since I need there to be some plot or goal, and, if there is violence, I need it to be to the point, not half-hidden in descriptive babble that goes on for 15 minutes at a time. ( )
  crazybatcow | May 4, 2015 |
So many things is what I thought. First and foremost, whilst the Kindle edition is not strictly what the author intended, it would be wise for them to check the spelling and grammar of the edition anyway, just so they can make sure it's not as bad as this was. I don't know if the books are like that, but this was terrible. Commas all over the place, words missing, entire sentences annexed and glued on to other ones.

For the novel itself, it just didn't grab me. The names are pathetic. I realise fantasy names are all in vogue, especially (obviously) for fantasy novels, but these ones were just stupid. I'm surprised there wasn't a character called Stupid. He and Silent could have brooded together. The dialogue was shaky and there was absolutely no world-building whatsoever. No description, just names and weird thoughts from the first-person POV narrator, who was dodgy at best. The premise seemed good and I quite like the situation they were in, but not with this writing. ( )
  Xleptodactylous | Apr 7, 2015 |
Enjoyable despite the amateurish prose.
  wissamktb | Feb 1, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 41 (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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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.
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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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:19 -0400)

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