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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
1,635444,423 (3.86)86
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» See also 86 mentions

English (41)  French (2)  Italian (1)  All languages (44)
Showing 1-5 of 41 (next | show all)
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 |
I found the first chapter of this book a little difficult to get through. Once you get going and accept the world setting, though, the book is a pretty captivating read. I wouldn't call it the smoothest writing or the most well-fleshed out characters, but they grow on you. I figured out the twist about 2/3 of the way through the book. I feel more invested now in seeing how the whole situation plays out. Plus, I am getting to enjoy the main character. ( )
  ladypembroke | Nov 22, 2014 |
Gritty, Mysterious Adventure: Glen Cook’s Chronicles of the Black Company starts off a lengthy series with a large following (which I have finally joined). Thanks to a Sword & Sorcery group read on Goodreads I did not entirely miss a series born in 1984, which I had naively figured was just another fantasy series. I mistakenly thought it was just tales about silly comrades, with more brawn than brain, going from one job to another. The Company is not just some band of brutes going from one mission/employer to the next; it is a professional army for hire that has a history longer than most States/Kingdoms. Expect lots of intricate gritty warfare infused with warrior magicians dolling out spells that liquefy mountains and topple the sky. By reading these chronicles, you are (more or less) reading the Annals; well, you almost become part of the Company.

This first-person narrative is compelling: Our narrator, Croaker, is a physician and warrior, but he has the singular duty of recording the Annals of the Company. Below are a number of quotes to convey his voice. His succinct observations add an unexpected, very satisfying, level of intelligence. The Annals (as physical books) are rarely mentioned/accounted for; however, the storytelling was so engaging I often overlooked the notion that Croaker appears bookless.

Pleasantly mysteries adventure: Cook throws the reader into the deep-end from the start. Strangely even this reprint has no map (which would have been welcome to orient readers). The scale of adventure ranges from skirmishes, to grand battles, to sorties with selected members. The Company seems to range in size from one hundred men to a few thousand. Their employees and their enemies are many and complex.It becomes clear that the conflicts are many and intertwined, but thankfully consistent. Without spoiling anything, I can reveal that it will take 50% of the book to communicate that the Lady is the primary employer of the Company, and her secondary commanders are the Taken (usually undead/possessed sorcerers) which also battle one another. All these are in battle with another army led by the Rebel (and his Circle of eighteen). Somehow Cook manages to dose out just the right amount of information to keep you hooked.

Characters are interesting and a strength Each has concise names whether they be the narrator (Croaker), an enemy (Rebel, or Dominator), a Company member (Captain, Lieutenant), or sorcerer (One-Eye, Catcher, Lady, etc.). We learn about everyone via Croaker’s narration; which are often profound. One-Eye and Goblin are two of the Company’s few sorcerers (Silent being another Key one); they continually have contests of antagonistic sorcery, like brothers. Then there is a new addition who joins early on named Raven who has a truly mysterious backstory. Croaker voted to enlist him saying, “I voted aye. I smelled a mystery and did not want it to get away.” Which is what I feel now about these book. There are many mysterious left in the series of the Black Company … and I do not want them to get away!

Croaker’s Voice (Various, disconnected quotes)

We all have our pasts. I suspect we keep them nebulous not because we are hiding from pour yesterdays but because we think we will cut more romantic figures if we roll our eyes and dispense delicate hints about beautiful women forever beyond our reach.

When I reflect on my companion’s inner nature I usually wish I controlled one small talent. I wish I could look inside them and unmask the darks and brights that move them. Then I take a quick look into the jungle of my own soul and realize that I cannot. Any man who barely sustains an armistice with himself has no business picking around in an alien soul.

One-Eye is at least a hundred years old. The Annals mention the wizened little black man’s tempers throughout the last century. There is no telling when he joined. Seventy years’ worth of Annals were lost when the Company’s positions were overrun at the Battle of Urban. One-Eye refuses to illuminate the missing years. He says he does not believe in history.

One-Eye cheats. But never when Raven is playing.

Silent smiled, shrugged, stalked over to the stone pile and seated himself. He was done with the question game. Of all the Company he is the least concerned about the image he portrayed in the Annals. He does not care whether people like or hate him, does not care where he has been or where he is going. Sometimes I wonder if he cares whether he lives or dies, wonder what makes him stay.

I am a haunted man. I am haunted by the Limper’s screams. I am haunted by the Lady’s laughter. I am haunted by my suspicion that we were furthering the cause of something that deserves to be scrubbed from the face of the earth. I am haunted by the conviction that those bent upon the Lady’s eradication are little better than she…I am haunted by the clear knowledge that, in the end, evil always triumphs.

My last glimpse of Catcher was of a weary person slumped in unhappiness. I guess it is hard for them to live up to their reputations. We all want people to like us. ( )
  SELindberg | Nov 15, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Glen Cookprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Berdak, KeithCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.
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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