Read The Black Company by Glen Cook Online


Librarian note: an alternate cover for this edition can be found here.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, toLibrarian note: an alternate cover for this edition can be found here.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....

Title : The Black Company
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780812521399
Format Type : Mass Market Paperback
Number of Pages : 319 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Black Company Reviews

  • ☽Luna☾
    2019-03-11 06:19

    DNF @ 48%THIS BOOK WAS NOT MY CUP OF TEA."This book is utter pus" - a quote by Lady Luna hater of all things shit.I'm actually really sad about this DNF, I wanted to love this book and before I even read it, I knew it was going to be a four or five star read because of the reviews on it & that blurb sounds goddamn amazing. I, However, can safely say I was wrong and that I absolutely loathed reading this. I'm sorry I truly tried, however I just didn't care about anything & the writing *shudders*. I tried forcing myself to love this, however my rating on the book kept getting lower & lower until it reach a 'no star' rating, that's when I threw in the towel. I RARELY DNF books it saddens me to do it. But I'm not even sorry this one got the can. This book truly deserved it. I know I'm in the minority here however this book is so hugely overrated in my opinion. I heard this was the "best grimdark ever created"well for me it's probably the worst, yeah I get it was written in the 80's however that's no excuse. Classics are classics for a reason and this book does not deserve the hype it gets. I've read gory disgusting messes of books before that have you gritting your teeth, I didn't get that once with this book. I understand I didn't read the whole thing but I just couldn't force myself to continue. There was nothing happening that made me want to read more. I honestly was either breaking ribs from laughter at the amount of bullshit I was reading or I was rolling my eyes. I seriously got an eye cramp for the amount of times I rolled them.I honestly feel this book is unworthy for a full review so I'm going to justify my opinion with a dot point presentation on why I hated it so much. *leers at book with venomous contempt*-“As you might expect in a company of villains held together by its now and its us-against-the-world gone befores.”Okay well, where was the villainary at? All I read about was a bunch of grown men giggling and finding corpses that weren't even described. A lot of the action scenes were done in the background. Stop telling us & show us instead... Actually don't bother.. I don't care.-“Bassard. All bassard.” Something struck him funny. He giggled.”I HATED all the giggling. Tough grown men do not giggle like school girls. I HATE THIS & what the heck is a Bassard? I put the word into Google & computer says no. *anger rising*-I was bored & I was confused. I have the attention span of a goldfish & this book was like having to do homework. It sucked. Like There's no descriptions of things so I didn't have a clue what the fuck the limper or soulcatcher was... Oh and did I mention, I don't care either, because grown freaking MEN WHO ARE MURDERS, WERE GIGGLING.-There was 0 world building. I didn't know what anyone or anything looked like & I didn't really care anyway.. -There's 0 back story so the whole book was a confusing mess.-There was 0 compelling characters & 0 feels were involved.-I'm someone who is very extremely particular about POV's. I hate first person story telling. And this book was the strangest first person POV I've ever read (i can't even describe it). literally took all the enjoyment out of reading this book. -This would have to be the most disjointed, sloppy, lazy, hard to follow writing I've ever come across. I can normally look past bad writing, however this book held 0 interest for me. So it felt like a chore to try to read it and believe me when I say you need to concentrate really hard on the writing while reading, it zapped all my precious energy. Example of why I didn't like the writing;"Zig when they expect you to zag.”What even is that sentence?"Red eyes. Four legs. Dark as the night. Black leopard. It moved as fluidly as water running downhill. It padded down the stair into the courtyard, vanished.The monkey in my backbrain wanted to scamper up a tail tree, screeching, to hurl excrement and rotted fruit. I fled toward the nearest door, took a protected route to the Captain’s quarters, let myself in without knocking.”*cough* what the actual fuck?! Like why is the author talking about monkeys flinging poo?-You call this grimdark?! My nannas undies are darker after she farts.-I feel this book just tried way to hard to be different, I get the author was trying to break stereotypes, HOWEVER it felt forced.-But it was the writing that honestly just put me off it was SO hard to digest, I have heartburn now. -"Crap. You kill them same as you kill anything else. Only you move faster and hit harder ’cause you only get one shot.”This to me is a promise of badassery, however Glen Cook broke his promise and delivered none in the entire first half.-Also a lot of nothing happened.. Seriously nothing happen.. except a bunch of grown men playing cards, giggling, chasing wereleopards & imagining what the Lady looks like.. Did I mention grown men were giggling?**CAUTION MINOR SPOILERS BELOW**-A child is raped and tortured but it had 0 relevance to the plot. Like it was just there to make the book darker and add shock value, however all it achieved was pissing me off. It made me want to rape this book with a knife. *anger fully risen*side note: an Internet troll informed me that this information is false & the rape plays a bigger role later on... But just remember, I couldn't careless. NOW IM RAGING. This book made me so angry, I am ready to fight someone *flips table* I'm sorry, I really tried on this one but I can safely say this would probably be the worst book I've ever tried to read in my whole entire existence. I do not like this author & wont be trying any of his books in the future. So to all my Goodreads buddies that love this book, I'm sorry you had to read this nasty review. Truly I am. Here's a cupcake to cheer you up. Please be mindful that this is only an OPINION on a BOOK (believe it or not). I'm not looking to change anyone's opinion on this novel or stop them from reading it. Plus my opinion can't be trusted on this one, BECAUSE EVERYONE ELSE LOVES IT.I obviously just got a dud.Now have a lovely day.. Yours sincerely your local Goodreads axe wielding psychopath.preview;Literally the biggest buddy read I've ever done, like we are no longer a group, we are now an army of savages wanting grimdark goodness. Sir Twerks, My stinky princess, Oriental, Jody, Alex, Craig, Emilia, Terry & Michael.Will the force be with this one?It even has Darth Vader on the cover.Ps I'm keeping the wine cooler.

  • ✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
    2019-03-07 08:16

    ● Buddy reread with the new mercenary recruits over at BB&B ●➽ And the moral of this rereread is:There is that, yes. Also, my boyfriend Croaker and my girlfriend Lady have been safely stashed away in my High Security Harem for a few decades years now and I think it's high time I discretely kidnapped some of their fellow mercenaries to keep them company. They have me to keep them, um, entertained, of course, but what with my other 24,548 harem spouses I can't keep everyone, um, you know, satisfied 24/7 and stuff. I have therefore decided to abduct One-Eye and Goblin. I'm pretty sure they will provide Croaker and Lady with hours and hours of most delightful, lively entertainment. Official Court Harem Jesters (OCHJ™) I hereby name them and stuff.That's not exactly what I had in mind, but hey, I guess it would work, too. Sure it would. I bet Lady is going to love the unicorn costume, too.And now excuse me while I go, um, entertain, Mad Rogan and Sandman Slim and His Furriness and Daniel Faust and Ms Caitlleanabruaudi and Caleb Shepperd and Ace Dante and and and...need I go on? Didn't think so. [Original review]► Actual rating: 15 stars. And I'm not even exaggerating.Warning: this book is not for the fluffy bunnies, pastel-colored rainbows, romance freaks. If you belong to that scary lovely bunch of people, do not, I repeat, DO NOT, read this book. It might scar you for life. It might even haunt you after death.There are books with bad guys. Then there is this book. Never before have I encountered such a glorious collection of twisted, evil, morally corrupt, vile, dishonorable, despicable, contemptible, shady characters. The guys are immoral, the chicks are villainous, the weird creatures are blood-thirsty. And all of them are homicidal maniacs! This. Book. A dream come true. ① Meet the bad guys: The Black Company.They're mercenaries. They will do anything for money. Morals? Completely irrelevant. Ethics? Oh please, don't be silly. We're talking about war here. And crushing the enemy, whatever the cost. Whatever the reasons. Whatever everything. Just follow the orders (-hum- more or less) and cut, cut, cut, slice, slice, slice, hit, hit, hit, kill, kill, kill. Some people sell cute puppies for a living, other get murderous for money. Just a job like any other (view spoiler)[given the choice, guess which of the two jobs I'd choose? {insert homicidal maniac smile here} (hide spoiler)].② Meet the bad guys the bad guys work for: The Lady and The Ten That Were Taken.There are villains. And then there are VILLAINS. Believe me when I tell you you have never come across such a bunch of deliciously wicked, evil characters:✔ Bloodthirsty (minimum job requirement #1)✔ Nefarious (a personal favourite, obviously)✔ Vicious (yay!)✔ Merciless (minimum job requirement #2)✔ Perverted (hooray!)✔ Cunning (minimum job requirement #3)✔ Treacherous (the amount of backstabbing, double-crossing and deceitful scheming going on in this book is mind staggering. And positively exquisite). ✔ Ruthless (minimum job requirement #4)✔ Just plain despicable (YES YES YES YES YES!)③ Meet the bad guys the bad guys that work for the bad guys are up against: The Rebels.These guys here are not the good-hearted rebel type. They're just as heartless, devious, homicidal and unscrupulous as any other character in this story. Yeah, Cook is an equal-opportunity kind of guy. Everyone gets to be evil in his book. It's absolutely delightful. And so very refreshing {insert happy sigh here}.Dear silly people who thought I would DNF the hell out of this book in less time that it takes to blink: this is one of the best, most engrossing books I have read in recent years. Take that ye of little faith! This book is epic. This book is awesome. This book is so gripping-compelling-thrilling that once you start you just can't put it down. And it's bloody well written. Okay, so Cook's style takes some getting used to. Okay, so the first chapter kind of makes the reader think he/she is a total idiot. And not bright enough to be reading the book. And might be in need of a brain transplant. Because, frankly, nothing makes sense at first. But worry not dear friends, for it all becomes clear as day once you get past chapter 1. What? What seems to be the problem dear friends? I just scared you away from this book? You think you're not clever enough to read it? Of course you are. Come on people, time to have a little self-confidence! If I, the everytime-I-try-to-read-epic-fantasy-I-DNF-the-book-after-20-pages freak did it, you can, too! Still not convinced about this? What if I told you flying carpets were involved (guaranteed 100% Aladdin and Jasmine-free)? How can you resist something like that? Well let me tell you, you can't. ►► And the moral of this review is: read this people, you'll be glad you did ← you better be anyway. I might unleash The Lady and The Taken on you if you aren't. Be afraid. Be very afraid .✎ Book 2: Shadows Linger ★★★★★✎ Book 3: The White Rose ★★★★★✎ Book 3.5: The Silver Spike ★★ ← pretending this one never happened.✎ Book 4: Shadow Games ★★★★★✎ Book 5: Dreams of Steel ★★★★★✎ Book 6: Bleak Seasons ★★★★★✎ Book 7: She Is The Darkness ★★★★★✎ Book 8: Water Sleeps ★★★ ← no comment✎ Book 9: Soldiers Live ★★★★★["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • mark monday
    2019-03-14 05:28

    i thought this book was great. a strange kind of modern classic, one that influenced many other fantasy efforts by ushering in the genuine darkness, grittiness, and lack of wonder of the military novel. the writing is direct, unadorned, choppy - a soldier's perspective, i suppose. the novel jumps right in the middle of the action and makes no attempt to help readers out, assuming that they will eventually catch up. experiencing the lack of poetry and of justice, the anonymity of most of the soldiers, and the dearth of noble sentiment - indeed, very little sentiment of any kind whatsoever - was like splashing into icy cold water. it is startling, at first. but you get numbed to it.the beginning was definitely abrupt but i got into the swing of things pretty quickly. the novel is an onion that gets increasingly rotten as you peel away every layer - but still isn't a completely bad onion. you can still use parts of it in a salad. don't toss that onion away, it's not all bad! in particular, i loved the literalized levels of moral ambiguity and evil:(view spoiler)[ the perspective of an often ethically apathetic but at times heroic doctor and Company historian Croaker...who lives and works for a dark, deadly, downright evilbut not always totally evil, murderous, macho mercenary outfitThe Black Company...that is hired by a frightening, elegantly evil but at times rather sympathetic and even gracious bossSoulcatcher...who is part of an ersatz Legion of Doom, filled with flamboyantly evil sorts who are effectively deadly but also often drolly incompetent and are sometimesnot-so-completely-evil- all of whom have their own stylish Swingin' Villain LookThe Ten Who Were Taken...they all work for a pretty darn evil, vicious, torturing, sister-slayin', former-but-still-ambitious tyrant of the land and, well,sometimes not-so-evil big bossThe Lady...who is locked in a secret combat over the fate of the world with The Worst of the Worst, a Completely 100% Evil Big Bad Guy, her husband and former co-tyrantThe Dominator...who secretly commands his own mind-controlled Justice League, heroes who are as morally ambiguous as any modern day guerilla groupThe Circle...who in turn lead a resolute force of men, fighting against imperial evil, those brave souls known asThe Rebel...easily sacrificed patsies who are apparently the actual good guys of the novel! we are not privy to their perspective...(hide spoiler)]'cause baby, we're with the bad guys this time!the reader's stand-in, Croaker, is not all bad. he does some pretty good things. he usually won't lift a finger for anyone outside of the Black Company but, at times, he is a genuinely good guy. The Black Company itself sounds like a militaristic Evil Pixar. it takes pride in its reputation for excellence and usually delivers, above and beyond. it treats its people right. it cares for them; it tries to remember their names. it doesn't like wasting time and effort in senseless battle. it prefers to run rather than toss away the lives of its men. it tries to give them rest and recreation; it promotes comraderie and respect and positive, friendly relationships. The Black Company actively tries to never fuck its men over. and, rather sweetly, it does not think highly of child abuse and torture. that's a good company to work for! however, The Black Company also kills sleeping guardsmen in their beds. it burns down whole villages. it cares more about a paycheck than about working for mass murdering villains. its younger men rape women while its older men shrug their shoulders indulgently, an older brother chuckling at the shenanigans of a younger brother. for chrissakes, it marches screaming prisoners of war in the middle of a town square and then proceeds to nonchalantly slaughter them, simply because they are in a hurry to get the hell out of dodge. Croaker notices these things, justifies or tries to explain away some of them, but mainly chooses not to dwell on it. as he says: he was not raised to speak ill of his family. and so his narration focuses on the The Black Company's current place on the map as he helps out the wounded, tries to figure out mysteries, and writes about those colleagues with whom he is particularly close. often he spends a lot of time mooning on and on and over the two most intriguing and glamorous women that he actually only sorta knows - Soulcatcher and The Lady. just as often, he contemplates the history and the future of his outfit. he is a Company Man, through and through. The Black Company is bad - Croaker knows it and the reader is shown it during several key sequences - but it is, as they say,not all bad .the novel features a Secret Hero: Raven. he saves a little girl's life and protects her throughout the tale. he also has a habit of enacting blind vengeance, enjoys extreme knife play, and early on, he graphically and nonchalantly strangles his backstabbing wife at a garden party, in front of his new buddies The Black Company. he is not bad looking and apparently smells like a corpse. that's our mysterious Secret Hero, folks, enjoy him!i understand that Glen Cook used his experiences in Vietnam to inform his novel. after learning that fact the parallel becomes obvious. but to me at least, it is not simply a parallel for Vietnam; it is a very grown up and realistic analogy for many wars, for the nature of war itself. even the Good Guys can be Bad Guys. and even the Bad Guys have their reasons. what villain truly thinks that they are motivated by Complete Evil anyway? almost anything can be rationalized.the novel contains precious little of pure good - so little that i clung to those rare good deeds, parceled out by the author so sparingly. what the novel has in spades is shades of grey: no true heroes and very few completely villainous villains. and yet... not a despairing novel. i felt strangely refreshed after reading it. review for the The Black Company trilogy:

  • Evgeny
    2019-03-10 09:34

    Glen Cook is often called the father of grimdark fantasy. This is his most famous series which most definitely helped grimdark to become the dominant sub-genre of the modern fantasy. A long time ago even way before J.R.R. Tolkien created his classic trilogy most of the fantasy (or what would later be called such) belonged to so-called heroic fantasy. There was a person, or a group of people who had to perform heroic deeds to save the world most of the time; Lord of the Rings firmly falls into this category. Conan the Barbarian performed his heroics for personal gains. Elric by Michael Moorcock while not being a nice person still saved the world from evil several times. Welcome to the world of The Black Company. There is no single person in the entire series who could be called nice by any stretch of the word's definition. You will find plenty of shades of gray though. Their world is dark and violent with almost constant struggle between plain evil and outright evil which would make the Biblical Satan look like an amateur. The Company is a band of mercenaries with its people just doing their jobs of fighting and dying caught in the power struggle of demigods; at the end of the day even demigods need an army to finalize their conquests; compare it with modern military actions: no matter how many airstrikes you do with even the most modern bombs available only the ground troops ensure the area in question is secured. The "heroes" of the series are low level grunts of the mercenary band. None of them are nice people, but they do have their own honor code and they try to support the lesser of the evils when they have a choice. The characters of the company are excellent and memorable; they grow on you and you find yourself rooting for them after a while. Speaking of the characters I cannot help mentioning One-Eye and Goblin. These two are the best frenemies of fantasy in particular and any literature in general. They are minor wizards whose purpose in life is to outdo each other by using any means necessary and as a result they never fail to bring amusing moments. I am convinced Glen Cook is practically unsurpassed when it comes to the amount of backstabbing and double-crossing in the literature. This makes up for an exciting and unpredictable plot twists. The book and most of the series is written as the company's annals by its annalist and surgeon aptly named Croaker. For this reason it takes some time to get used to writing style with quite a few people abandoning the series because of this. When you think about it, Croaker really does not have much time for writing fancy literature; unlike real-life Patrick Rothfuss or George R.R. Martin he cannot afford taking his time to write being in the middle of military action. Glen Cook is a Vietnam War vet and as such when he writes about a war he really knows about it. He never glorifies one; in fact the main idea of the series is that there is no glory in any war, no matter which side you fight on. He is also great when it comes to describing military camaraderie; Croaker often refers to people of the company as family. So the writing sometimes is choppy and quite minimalist when it comes to the descriptions. If you managed to get past it, you will be rewarded with very good characters and exciting plot. All of the book of the series are hard to put down after the initial confusion and this one is not an exception. To be completely honest I need to mention I am a big fan of the series, so please take my rating with a grain of salt. It might be half a star lower.

  • Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads
    2019-03-23 12:38

    Reviewed by: Rabid ReadsI went into the reading of THE BLACK COMPANY by Glen Cook nearly blind. I knew a lot of people didn't like it. I knew it wasn't going to be warm and fuzzy. But that was pretty much it.I quickly learned that despite Joe Abercrombie being widely known as "Lord Grimdark," it was Cook who gave birth to the subgenre.So that's important to know: it it grim and it is dark.But it's also about brotherhood, about family. It's about upholding some version of a moral code in the midst of your own depravity. It's also surprisingly funny. I buddy read this with a bunch of friends on Goodreads, and after various similar incidents, I suggested the BR's catchphrase should be, "Shock, horror, and hilarity."Shock. Horror. And hilarity . . . The story is told from the POV of the Company physician, a man named Croaker. He's also the annalist, the Company historian, and it doesn't take long to determine he's perfectly suited to the task.Croaker is . . . curious. So curious that he borders on being nosy (but he's not a gossip), and his good-natured need to unravel mysteries keeps him likable rather than obnoxious. He's one of my favorite characters.BUT.Likable as he may be--as any of the Company may be--they are not the Good Guys. They're sellswords, the archetypal mercenaries, they fight for coin, not for cause, and while Croaker admits to not recording every foul deed in which the Company partakes, he records enough that you never confuse them with heroes.The Black Company enthusiastically engages in the spoils of war and all that entails, so consider this your warning if anything that falls under that umbrella is one of your triggers. This kind of thing is always unpleasant, but as I've mentioned before, I give a lot of it a pass when it happens in fantasy b/c realism.BUT.They do have their own version of a code, and unless it threatens the Company as a whole, they follow it to the best of their ability.Unfortunately, that code doesn't preclude working for the Bad Guys. B/c according to Company philosophy, there are no "Bad Guys," and similarly:“Evil is relative . . . 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.BUT. Croaker becomes less and less convinced of this as the story progresses as more and more people become victims in the power struggles of their "betters." And by victim, I mean DEAD. As a doornail. Numbering in the tens of thousands. B/c WAR.The only real problem I had was an infrequent lack of clarity. I don't expect to know ALL THE THINGS in the first installment of a long-running fantasy series, but the things I don't know need to be tangibly shrouded in mystery. You can't make incomprehensible statements in a way that looks like you're supposed to know what they're talking about, when in reality you're not.That way lies madness.Beyond that, I loved THE BLACK COMPANY by Glen Cook. One of the wonderful things about fantasy, is that it ages well, and whether it's traditional good vs. evil fantasy or more nebulous what is good or evil fantasy, the elements are timeless--there's a reason this one is still making the rounds nearly 25 years after it was originally published, and that reason is EPIC. Highly recommended.Pre-review:SO. I just finished this . . . and it was so good that even though the thing I didn't want to happen (b/c so bloody obvious) happened, I did not care, b/c the way it played out was EPIC.Now I NEED:Full RTC.

  • Markus
    2019-03-12 07:20

    “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 own mourners.” After only reading the first book in the three-part omnibus edition, I can already tell that Glen Cook is an exceptionally skilled storyteller, and that The Black Company is probably the best war story I have ever read.Series review from the beginningSeries review from the ending

  • Nancy
    2019-03-18 07:13

    After 75 pages, I've come to the conclusion that life is too short to waste reading bad books. Positive praise and reviews caused me to bring the book home against my best judgement. The first-person style, lack of character depth, stupid names, inane dialogue and juvenile prose have caused me to abandon the book in frustration. Good thing I read Mary Gentle's Ash: A Secret History before giving up on the military fantasy genre altogether.

  • Carol.
    2019-03-05 11:26

    Three stars; ultimately it's just not my kind of book. As far as plot, it mostly consists of a series of encounters for the Black Company, starting with getting out of their current contract and accepting employment from the Lady. I don't mind this style of plot in my books, but not everyone may enjoy.The pacing of the story was uneven at best. Mostly the narrative stopped on plot points germane to their particular tasks for the Lady, but occasionally it takes time to linger on company dynamics. Those interludes mostly seem to consist of card games. I'm definitely more used to the epic fantasy that tells you what the road was like, the color of the blooming flowers, the sunsets, etc. along the way (David Eddings, anyone?).The characters felt mostly archetypal, sketch portraits done in greys. There's a grizzled captain who knows more than he lets on and has a hidden moral core; the fallen warrior; the morally ambiguous doctor; the orphan foundling who will be the figurehead for a new movement. That said, the small touches helped make them interesting to me and left me intrigued: the wizards' bickering, Darling's finger language, Soulcatcher's voices.The world seemed interesting, as much as we are given. The concept of the Taken was fascinating. The forvalaka was fascinating as well, but language is odd--why did we go from a made-up word to "Taken?" I think the forvalaka was one of the only created words, which sits oddly with the language of the story. Flying carpets were introduced late and seemed mostly to be a plot device. They seemed at odds with the conventional methods of horseback, cart, walking, ship.Overall it was a kind of a *shrug* kind of book for me. I didn't hate it, but I was able to put it down and even fall asleep while reading it, and I've been known to stay up all night reading. However, I'll check out the next in the series out of curiosity, and because Cook has so many fans, I'm trying to see the appeal.

  • Eon ♒Windrunner♒
    2019-03-10 08:15

    Before Abercrombie… Before Lawrence... Before Martin…There was Cook.I loved The Black Company. It is dark, entertaining and funny with a hint of epic and it kept me enthralled until the end. It's about a group of people (with a particular set of skills :D) fighting for the employer of the day. These people are not good or bad. They are just people. Some are worse than others, but it’s all about your point of view. I mention this only, because I kept on wondering if I was backing the bad guys here. Turns out, things are not so much black and white as they are grey.The beginning of the book was a bit of 'WHAT IS GOING ON?' at first, but the confusion dissipates and makes way for 'just-one-more-page' pretty quickly as we follow the core of a group of mercenaries known as …The Black Company. Didn't see that one coming did you?The story is told from the viewpoint of the company’s annalist and opens up with our mercenaries doing their thing in the city of Beryl, Queen of the Jewel Cities, protecting the Syndic from rivals and his own troops among other things. So basically, bodyguards. That is until events conspire and something is released upon the city…“You know anything about that out there?” An isolated scream echoed in the distance. It had a quality which set it aside from other recent screams. Those had been filled with pain, rage, and fear. This one was redolent of something darker.Can it be killed?”“They’re almost invincible, Captain.”“Can they be killed?” The Captain put a hard edge on his voice. He was frightened too.“Yes,” One-Eye confessed. He seemed a whisker less scared than Tom-Tom. “Nothing is invulnerable. Not even that thing on the black ship. But this is strong, fast, and smart. Weapons are of little avail. Sorcery is better, but even that isn’t much use.” Never before had I heard him admit limitationsUnfortunately for the mercenaries, the forvalaka is just the beginning and leads them to a fated meeting with something that goes by the name of Soulcatcher and thus they make the best of a bad situation and are hired and caught in a war they do not want to be a part of, fighting for an employer they do not want to serve. Also, EVIL is about.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.“And now they’re restored to life, it seems,” I said. “They rule the northern empire. Tom-Tom and One-Eye must have suspected. … We’ve enlisted in their service.”The writing felt different. I cannot pin exactly what it is that felt so fresh, but suspect it is just the way Cook writes. He says things in ways that I haven’t read them before and his humour was delightful in that horrific kind of way. More please!Highly recommended.---------------------------------------------------------PS: One-Eye vs Goblin…best wizard rivalry ever.One-Eye had trooped downhill behind me, sour, surly, grumbling to himself, and spoiling for a row. His path crossed Goblin’s.Slugabed Goblin had just dragged out of his bedroll. He had a bowl of water and was washing up. He is a fastidious little wart. One-Eye spotted him and saw a chance to punish somebody with his foul mood. He muttered a string of strange words and went into a curious little fling that looked half ballet and half primitive war dance.Goblin’s water changed.I smelled it from twenty feet away. It had turned a malignant brown. Sickening green gobs floated on its surface. It even felt foul.Goblin rose with magnificent dignity, turned. He looked an evilly grinning One-Eye in the eye for several seconds. Then he bowed. When his head came up he wore a huge frog smile. He opened his mouth and let fly the most godawful, earthshaking howl I have ever heard.The LadySoulcatcher

  • Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘
    2019-02-23 06:22

    ► DNF 42%. Shoot me, because it seemed that The Black Company was written for me : ✘ Morally ambiguous Plain bad heroes whose only rules are brotherhood's related and who don't shy away from almost any deed (they draw the line at killing children, but everything else is implicitly accepted - I'll let you think about what resides into their candid brains, haha). You gotta love antiheroes : when you start smiling because Aww, they didn't kill the kid, after all! you know that you're up for some awful developments. I personally consider antiheroes like the best surprises in Fantasy, because let's face it, this genre is so overcrowded with special snowflakes that we could spend days shivering in their vicinities. ✘ The complete lack of info-dumping mixed with a rather complex world-building does bring some confusion in the beginning and I came across several words in the first chapter that got me all, What the hell is THAT? Yet it didn't bother me at all because we're thrown into action without any form of introduction, and that's something many Fantasy writers should try sometimes. Give your readers some credit : we always figure things out after a while. ✘ The writing itself is also different from what I'm used in Fantasy : a little choppy but to the point and without the dared 2 pages long descriptions that make my eyes bleed. Yet it's not free of repetitions either. Now you're probably wondering why I'm stopping at 42%. Sigh. As I said, it seemed that The Black Company was written for me. Unfortunately it was without counting on the intense boredom I'm feeling, and the worst kind of boredom it is : It's not that nothing is happening, but that I don't care for any of it whatsoever. Perhaps Fantasy heavy on war games is not for me. Perhaps they spend way too much time playing cards for my liking. Perhaps it's not the right time for me to read it, I don't freaking know, but I can't find in me to go on when there are so many great books waiting for me out there. Not to mention that as interesting the characters appear to be at first glance, I feel no connection to them and to the MC, Croaker, and in my opinion they lack layers - but it could get better after. The only one who awoke my interest is Raven, but not enough for me to keep reading. If I can deal with choppy writing, I sure can't bother with choppy plot. ► The Black Company was not written for me after all. Freaking traitor. Many of my friends loved it, though, so I might try again someday, but not when I'm counting the hours before coming back to school. For more of my reviews, please visit:

  •  Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
    2019-03-09 08:16

    It’s amazing how well military and fantasy seemed to mesh in this story. The Black Company is an elite mercenary unit that holds two values sacred: Committing fully to any commission they take on, and watching out for their fellow members, their brothers in the unit. This unit consists of hardened fighting men, some of whom happen to be wizards, and our narrator, Croaker, who is the annalist (records the history of the unit) and the doctor of the unit.The world they live in is plagued by war between the Rebels and those who serve the Lady. After leaving their present commission for a minor potentate in Beryl (a dead end that could have ended up with them all dead had they not found a way to ‘honorably’ terminate their employment), they take a commission with one of the twelve extremely scary Taken (a cabal of undead wizards who serve the Lady), an androgynous figure called Soulcatcher. Soulcatcher has the tendency to speak in various voices, male and female, sometimes at the same time. The Company knows there is something not right about Soulcatcher. Soulcatcher is probably evil. But for the Black Company, they don’t look at morals that way. Their greatest ethical commitment is to put in a good day’s work for their present employer. The problem is this job is going to take them into really nasty places, and cause some of the men of the Black Company to reevaluate their morals for serving their questionable employer, particularly Croaker.The writing style in this story appealed to me, with a brisk narrative that managed to convey exactly what I needed to know. The humor is subtle, and the depiction of violence is done very well—not excessively gory, but clearly expressing the ugly nature of war. As I mentioned above, the fantasy elements went hand and hand with this military adventure. The use of magic was a weapon used by both sides in the military conflict. The wizards in the Company were quite the characters, often having competitive showdowns with each other that were great comic relief.I appreciated the time spent to bring the characters to life. Although these are guys who work for pretty much anyone who can pay for them, I felt that they were honorable men in their own way. Croaker was a good narrative choice, because he was a seasoned soldier who had seen a lot, and pondered what he experiences in a way that brings the reader right into the narrative, along for the ride. He'd been in the business too long to be morally righteous in the traditional sense; but there were things that he and the guys in his unit definitely wouldn’t stand for. Croaker would be one of the first to admit that most of his brothers sit at various points on the evil spectrum. But there is evil, and there is worse evil, as they soon come to find out. The problem is trying to figure out which side is worse.Another standout character in this story was Raven. He was, well, scary, but tremendously fascinating. A man who joins their unit shortly after they take on the commission with Soulcatcher, he is driven initially by revenge. A formidable killer who scares even the hardened men of the unit, but with a sense of honor that causes him to intervene when another group of soldiers murder a village of children, and gang-rape a nine year old girl. That girl and her grandfather essentially become part of the unit, and Raven becomes like a surrogate dad to the little girl called Darling. This unlikely adoption of a mute little girl and her grandfather adds to the rag-tag family atmosphere of the Company, as they all end up becoming fond of the girl and her grandfather.Shades of gray. This story is definitely about that spectrum between black and white. It touches on the fact that war is more often the means through which figures in power work out their political squabbles, and less about doing the ‘right thing’ or righting wrongs. And the puppets of their war are working men, getting paid to fight their battles. That doesn’t erase their individual responsibilities for the wrongs they do, and they carry those burdens in the ways they can best manage. But at some point, one has to wonder when it’s time to walk way, to save what’s left of one’s own soul. That’s what Croaker struggles with.I like that fantasy can go to these places that I wouldn’t necessarily explore out of the fiction setting. The military life is not one I would choose for myself. However, I respect those in the military a lot. Like any profession, a soldier has his own set of ethics and rules, and the good and the bad that goes along with his job. Cook illustrated the inns and outs of military campaigns very well here, the grueling days and nights, and how war isn’t always some crazy, dramatic battle. Sometimes it’s about the long waiting, the even longer marches, and the deprivation when supplies are down, losing men faster than they can be saved, and digging in while the Company is surrounded by the enemy. And everyone has their part to play in the conflict, even if it’s just cannon fodder (sadly enough).I’m on a roll. I’ve liked most of the epic fantasy I’ve read so far. But this one stands out with its military esthetic, which was done very well. I read this story out of an omnibus collection of The Chronicles of the Black Company, and I’m glad I went ahead and bought it because I want to read more of the Black Company’s adventures.

  • Layla ✷ Praise the sun ✷
    2019-03-15 08:30

    A military fantasy book from a Vietnam war veteran and the father of grimdark. The writing takes some getting used to in the beginning as you are thrown into the world with no idea whatsoever of what is happening and you have to figure it all out on your own while you continue reading. There is no hand-holding and at times I felt like I was watching a David Lynch movie all over again in the sense that I wondered WHAT THE FAKK IS GOING ON. We abjure labels. We fight for money and an indefinable pride. The politics, the ethics, the moralities, are irrelevant.The Black Company is a band of mercenaries who fight for whoever pays them, in this specific case for the ultimate bad girl, the Lady, and against the Rebels, and its members are portrayed as neither really good nor bad here.They have but two principles: Faithfully carrying out their current commission and watching out brotherly for their fellow company members. Apart from that everyone in this book is devious, prevaricating, unpredictable, scheming people, just the degrees vary.The story is told from the point of view of Croaker, the company's physician and annalist, and during the lecture you get the feeling that you are actually reading someone's memories rather than an author's book in spite of the fact that this is fantasy. Brilliant! Croaker is also a good choice as the narrator because he questions their course of actions and it adds further to the shades of grey which are part of what makes this book so good. 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 are 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. Oh, my.Then there is Raven. He flicked a finger at a man surveying the gardens. His clothing was grey, tattered, and patched. He was of modest height, lean, dusky. Darkly handsome. I guessed him to be in his late twenties. Unprepossessing.… Not really. On second glance you noted something striking. An intensity, a lack of expression, something in his stance. He was not intimidated by the gardens. People looked and wrinkled their noses. They did not see the man, they saw rags. You could feel their revulsion. Bad enough that we had been allowed inside. Now it was ragpickers. A grandly accoutred attendant went to show him an entrance he’d obviously entered in error. The man came toward us, passing the attendant as if he did not exist. I think I might be in love. Even the most wicked of the company fear him for how cold, lethal and inscrutable he is, (view spoiler)[and his motives remain uncertain until the very end. (hide spoiler)]If you assume this is all dark and grim, it mostly is, but then there are One-Eye and Goblin. Two of the Company's wizards constantly trying to outperform each other at making the other one's life just a little more miserable, and it makes for some good laughs. A herd of minuscule lightning bugs poured out of One-Eye's nostrils. Good soldiers all, they fell into formation, spelling out the words Goblin is a Poof. All of the side characters are interesting in their own way. Take Silent, for instance. He doesn't say a single word throughout the entire book, and yet he works as a side character. Silent drifted into the clearing. He looked at me, at Raven, at the supplies, and did not say anything. Of course not. He is Silent.Because of how the book is written. Do I recommend this book? That depends entirely on you. It is dark, there is no hand holding, and nothing much seems to happen at times. But if you like an author who has faith in the intelligence of his reader, if you prefer shades of grey to black and white, and if you like fun schemes and wicked people, this is a must read.

  • Robin (Bridge Four)
    2019-02-20 09:14

    Buddy read with my fellow Mercinaries at Buddies Books and Baubles who kept me on track. Thank you.Have you ever gone into a book blind and been so surprised you look again to see if you picked up the right book? That was me, now I’m not entirely sure why but I thought this was about a group of guys on a ship sailing the open seas *shrugs*. So I was really surprised when it is about a band of soldiers for hire, more surprised when there were Wizards in that band and floored when they started talking about vampires, forvalaka and beings that have been brought back from the dead.After the first chapter I had no idea what was going on. I honestly thought I missed something and needed to go back and start again. This is why I was happy I was in a buddy read for this book. I would have maybe given up thinking that I totally was missing something, I wasn’t. It is Cook’s style to have a character know something but not let the reader in on it for awhile. It takes a little getting used to.The best thing is that this is Grimdark…so we are following a group of men who are mercenaries. They sell their swords to the highest bidder, more or less and will fight for any cause. It’s a tale of war so there is bad on both sides but it becomes pretty clear that our team is playing for the bad side.“You who come after me, scribbling these Annals, by now realize that I shy off portraying the whole truth about our band of blackguards. You know they are vicious, violent, and ignorant. They are complete barbarians, living out their cruelest fantasies, their behavior tempered only by the presence of a few decent men. I do not often show that side because these men are my brethren, my family, and I was taught young not to speak ill of kin. The old lessons die hardest.” It becomes pretty clear that Croaker and a few of the officer type people are the best of the crew but even they are hardened men that sometimes do the right thing but more often than not they just do the thing they are being paid for. Currently they are in service of The Lady. She is a bit of a megalomaniac set on world domination but hey everyone has to have goals. She also has a team of people she has brought back from the dead to be in her service….Croaker has even romanticized her in a few of his writings the beautiful seductess. That might have been a mistake as she is cruel, vindictive and will kill thousands of men just to further her goals.“I damned myself for my earlier romanticism. That Croaker who had come north, so thoroughly bemused by the mysterious Lady, was another man. A stripling, filled with the foolish ignorances of youth. Yeah. Sometimes you lie to yourself just to keep going.”We only ever get into the lives of a few of the main band but man the story was really gripping. If George RR Martin wrote this it would be over 1000 pages as he described the battle standards, the detailing around an archway and 3 days of battle. I’d be bored to death and skimming because battles are not really my thing. But Cook gives or tale and sometimes he abbreviates because he doesn’t give you every detail in the 2 weeks of a march north, or the battle that waged for 5 days. Instead he gives you the plot developments and meat of the story. There are fun times too as Croaker records the various Wizard battles between frenemies Goblin and One-Eye.There are some great raw unredeemed characters. Raven has some sort of past that made him kill his wife and lovers before joining The Black Company. He almost seems to have a little magic of his own and he shows how merciless he can be a few times is this book. But he was my favorite character and I really enjoyed how different he was from the rest of the company. There were some big surprises at the end of this book and it was well worth the read. I loved the idea of a band of men with their own moral code, at least to each other. They are not heroes and they are on the wrong side but it is an interesting journey and I’m excited to see where they go next.Note: I really suggest reading this with a few people. There are a few things that were somewhat critical I might not have caught all on my own and since the characters are so unhero-esk it’s really great discussion.

  • Terry
    2019-03-08 08:22

    I started Black Company with such high hopes. I bought the book back in the '80's when I first started digging into fantasy, but for some reason, never got to it. At one point or another, I know I picked it up, but the challenging writing style in the beginning turned me off and it's been sitting on my shelves unread ever since. When I found out that a great group of friends on Goodreads were going to do a buddy read of it, I couldn't resist pulling it out to join in. Ultimately, I'm really glad I did so. It has been terrific seeing the diverse and differing reviews and reactions of my friends, both those who read it all the way through as well as those who stopped after the rough beginning.So, for me, this book was a challenge. I really did not enjoy the first three chapters (which was just a little bit short of half the book). I felt like there was little I could invest myself in terms of both the characters or the action. Since there was not much description of the setting, or of the overall conflict, I found myself wondering what was the point. Too much action occurred out of scene, and we only learned of it through dialogue, which I didn't enjoy either. It was the most disjointed start to just about any book I've read, and I almost quit at that point. But, after making it into the second half of the book, the writing style smoothed out and we finally did start to learn what the point of the story was and more about the characters. By the end, I found that I was interested in the outcome and the sense of a larger story still to come.I feel that I'm an emotional reader. I can work my way through poor writing or even a bad storyline if I can feel invested in the overall emotion of the story, or if I can become emotionally attached to the characters. I was really challenged in this book to find that emotional connection to either. So, while I'm glad I finished, I would probably put my overall rating somewhere in the 2.5-3 stars range. I doubt that I'll pick up the sequels any time soon, although I will not rule them out as I've heard the next books are better. Again, thanks to all of those who were buddy reading with me. I love reading everybody's comments and reviews!

  • Alex Farrand
    2019-03-09 09:26

    3.25Bad guys being good guys, no wait Bad guys, no no good guys screwing over bad guys, no no that's not it. Bad guys doing bad stuff screwing bad guys? Well it is a little confusing, but I found it enjoyable. Sometimes it is pretty funny, but I like corny jokes. It isn't super brutal, but kind of weird magic.Also, I felt like it was one of those books I could set down and never read again, but while reading it I felt interested. The book wasn't gripping from beginning to end.

  • Sh3lly ☽ Guardian of Beautiful Squids and Lonely Moons ☽
    2019-03-05 12:10

    I have officially given up. DNF at 35%. There's nothing wrong with this. It just didn't work for me and was so boring. I'm sure it's me, not the book. Everyone else loved it. So it must mean I read it wrong, therefore I even created a new shelf just for this book. I did give it my best effort, so let me pull out the Daniel Radcliffe gif while I'm at it:Original post:I'm late to the party, but starting this one. Buddy read with the Buddies Books and Baubles group. They read it like November 19th or something, but whatever. Better late than never?Not quite, Blanche, but close enough.

  • seak
    2019-03-21 06:37

    Quick review: Think Malazan Book of the Fallen, but focusing only on the marines. Sounds good right?Especially given the fact that MBotF is one of my all-time favorite series and the marines were always my favorite parts. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I enjoyed this more, but I can't help but make the comparison and think it a good one. Don't ask me how my mind works, I obviously don't have a clue.The comparison also makes sense because this series was influential on Erikson's MBotF. They're completely different, but the cynicism is definitely there in this mercenary band (I'm talking about The Black Company now) and it doesn't hold your hand as you're getting acquainted with the book.As a big Malazan fan, I'm also a huge fan of authors that let you struggle. Authors that trust the intelligence of their readers, that they'll get it, they'll figure things out, and they'll be rewarded by it as well.I think the part where The Black Company diverges quite a bit from the Malazan world is that where Malazan is vast, The Black Company is not. The limited viewpoint, following the first person account of Croaker (Crokus anyone?) who's both the company healer and historian, definitely holds back the worldbuilding, but I'm not complaining either. Just noting. And that's not to say it's not vast, you just don't get a sense of the world as much when you only follow a single person. I'm sure the world expands as the series progresses.Overall, this was a really fun book. It's not black and white, you don't even really know if The Black Company is fighting for the right side, but that's what makes it good. They're just trying to make it through their commission.Plus, there are some great, zany characters, like One-Eye and Goblin, who magically duel each other constantly, pranking each other with the most ridiculous things and then having more ridiculous things gobble up the previous ridiculous things. It's just great fun.Croaker, the narrator as I mentioned, has a great voice. He takes his job seriously, but there's no pretense either. I can't wait to read more from the annals of the Black Company.4 out of 5 Stars (highly recommended)

  • Nicole
    2019-03-02 08:33

    When I finished this book, I was even considering giving it 5 stars because the ending has such an effect on me. However, I can't ignore the fact that the writing style was hard to get into and I didn't really start enjoying the book before I reached the second half.

  • Orient
    2019-03-02 11:33

    DNF at page 52A huge BR with amazing people. Edge, Alex, Sarah(Luna), Emelia, Jody, Michael and Craig. You are great and I'd be most happy to read any great book with you anytime <3 I want to apologize to you guys that I can't continue this adventure in "Black Company" with you.I won't rate this book as it wouldn't be fair and there is no such option I can link this book to.When I started reading it I felt excited and good as I was reading it with awesome people, in the biggest BR I've ever been. But after the first couple of pages my good mood was almost crushed.So what happened? I was put away by typos and missing words in the writing at first. I thought that it was the fault of my edition (I was reading an ebook), but I know that a couple of people had the same problem with other editions, too. True, it's annoying, but it's not very bad as I can continue if the story is good itself. Well, it wasn't. Reading the first pages I was allured to one of the characters, I mean the doc. He was quite likable and I craved to get more of him, as well as about the mages as they seemed interesting, too. But when I went further and spotted that the writing so far resembled nothing extraordinary or gripping, so I just read really slowly and made up various reasons not to read at all. And that's bad as the book should invoke the opposite. Moreover, I couldn't see the purpose of the story, the aim or the main idea. Was it to present the team of characters? Maybe, but again, I didn't find the connection I wanted with them. The writing just resembled a work of amateur sometimes. There were some funny dialogues I liked, I must admit and that helped me a little not to DNF this book soon as I did it the first time I read Black Company. To tell the truth, if it went on like that, I could have read the book till the very end. But one episode really struck me as disgusting. Those of you who know my reading preferences, remember that I avoid kid's torture. I had read a couple of books which had kids' torture (like Malazan), but again, it was vital to the story, everything was entwined and the way the author resolved it, well, I could skip the parts if I felt that it'll be too much for me. Regarding Malazan -kids were tortured/killed as a cause of weakening the enemy or gaining the power to execute the mastermind plan. I understand that. What I got in "Black Company" didn't resemble anything like that. Torture a kid in the cause of mocking...that was too much for me. And it definitely made me DNF this book. I don't know if I ever be able to read this series again. I wish you all a good day and I hope that those who are reading this book now or plan to read it, won't be put away by my unpopular POV.

  • Twerking To Beethoven
    2019-03-21 12:26

    This was supposed to be a huge BR with heaps of peeps, only the book turned out to be a monumental pile of shite. Chapter #3 - This is where I'm giving up. I've been told the the following instalments are much better than this one, but, honestly, I just don't have time nor energy to even try. Also, I'm supposed to finish this bastard to actually go ahead with the story, thing is there are so many issues in the pages I've gone through, I just don't feel like that, I'd rather... I don't even know.OK, let me express my feelings...Also...

  • Kaora
    2019-03-13 10:13

    We are minions of the villains of the piece. We confess the illusion and deny the substance.There are no self-proclaimed villains, only regiments of self-proclaimed saints. Victorious historians rule where good or evil lies.We abjure labels. We fight for money and an indefinable pride. The politics, the ethics, the moralities, are irrelevant.I loved this one.I didn't start out loving it, but on my second attempt at it with a group of friends, I found myself thoroughly hooked.It probably helps that I found out that Steven Erikson was largely influenced by Glen Cook's writing, so I went into it expecting that. It is similar in that it is not immediately apparent what is going on and who everybody is, but the characters quickly draw you in. Raven. Colder than our weather since Oar. A dead soul now, maybe. He can make a man shudder with a glance. He exudes a stench of the grave. And yet, Darling loves him.Each sentence was followed by a break. Each was in a different voice. I have heard those are the voices of all the people whose souls Soulcatcher has caught.There are some great battles, but Cook doesn't paint a picture as much he creates fascinating characters that you can't help but love, fear, hate. And that keeps you turning page after page.

  • Michael Britt
    2019-02-24 11:32

    Actual rating: 3.75. Rounded up because of the latter half of the book. This actually ended up being harder to rate than I thought it would! The first 3 chapters were quite boring and badly written. So I'd give them a 3 star rating to be generous. But chapters 4, 5, 6 and 7 were honestly pretty awesome. This book was frustrating, up til chapter 4, because I could tell Cook has talent, but it felt like he wasn't "tapped into it" just yet. So I was really happy to see him "evolve" as an author about half way through this book. This author intrigued me because me favorite Epic Fantasy author, Steven Erikson, sites him as being an influence. You can tell that influence is there, too, by the characters. I felt like I was reading interactions between the Bridgeburners/Bonehunters, but not as well written. What I really loved, and is the saving grace of this book, for me, are the characters and their interactions. It feels very "fluid" when they're interacting and talking to one another. So this was my favorite part. Now onto what I hated. Well, disliked is a better word. The writing could feel very disjointed at times. And I mean *very* disjointed. The first 3 chapters in particular. He tightens up the writing a bit in Chapters 4 and up, but this was definitely a big problem in the first few chapters. The plot was very meh for most of the book. He does a good job of giving us some tense scenes later on, but nothing that'll make you sweat. I was ultimately happy with the plot by the time we reached the end, though. Do *not* think you're going to get something like Abercrombie or Erikson or GRRM or whatever "grimdark" or "epic" author you're thinking this will be like. Cook is the "father" of grimdark, but that doesn't mean he does it as good or better than anyone current. Just that he was one of the first. This isn't a *bad* book, per say. But it's no masterpiece. It is so short that I have a hard time not recommending it. You could honestly sit down on a Saturday, or whatever day you have nothing to do, and knock this out in a few hours.

  • Ɗắɳ2.☊
    2019-03-20 10:12

    ★★☆☆☆½ The following is a courtroom transcript from the ongoing criminal investigation into the matter of The Goodreads Collective v. Wrongreader 2.0. Please note: This is merely a preliminary hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence against the defendant to carry this matter to trial.JUDGE: Will the defendant please rise . . . Mr. Wrongreader, I see here you have been informed of your right to have counsel present, but have chosen to wave that right. Is that correct, sir? WRONGREADER 2.0: Yes, Your Honor. JUDGE: Very well. You stand accused of improperly rating this novel, gross negligence in failing to acknowledge its merit, second-degree misdemeanor for missing the point, and general impropriety. You have chosen to plead not guilty. Is that also correct, sir?WRONGREADER 2.0: If it pleases the court, I'd be willing to cop to a lesser plea and throw myself at the mercy of the court, if you'll allow me a moment to state my case, and show that these charges are entirely unwarranted.JUDGE: I may consider that motion, if your argument is persuasive. Please proceed. WRONGREADER 2.0: Thank you, Your Honor.Okay, so, from what little foreknowledge I had of The Black Company, I was expecting this series to revolve around a gang of mercenaries pulling cons, heists, and other sneaky, nefarious misdeeds, à la Locke Lamora, Rogues of the Republic, Ocean's Eleven, etc. Imagine my surprise then, when I cracked open the book only to discover that it's not about a small band of mercenaries, but rather a huge company of soldiers—nearing a thousand at one point. And these soldiers and their handful of wizards are the tip of the spear in the war between some ancient power and the pesky rebels seeking to overthrow it. Granted, I failed to read the synopsis, so the error lies with me. But, I’ve repeatedly stated my general aversion to war stories. JUDGE: So I've heard. A stale argument that’s, honestly, quite silly.WRONGREADER 2.0: Perhaps. But, along with an unexpected storyline, I also encountered a fairly basic, straightforward writing style, with none of those superfluous descriptions so typical in epic fantasies. There’s no detailed accounting of the surroundings, no extensive world building. You're simply thrown into a new world with little to no explanation. Thus it takes some time to find your footing and settle into the story. A story which is told by the company surgeon and annalist, who chronicles the deeds, and histories of all the members of the Black Company. A story which finds the company duped into the employ of an immensely powerful evil, The Lady and her Taken, in a war with the rebels who’ve foolishly awoken her from her long slumber. A story lacking any sense of morality or “good guys.” A story of dark, and darker deeds. “Conspiracies and assassinations and naked power-grabs. All the fun of decadence. The Lady does not discourage anything. Maybe the games amuse her.”However, there was just enough prophecy and intrigue to keep me reading onward. Thankfully, the annalist sticks to a small group of core members, some of whom are only referred to by their rank. But it’s the two little wizards of the company, Goblin and One-Eye, who absolutely steal the show and lighten the mood with their delightful antics, as they wage a mini war of their own in their endless attempts to one-up each other. Look, I realize that Glen Cook is often called the father of the grimdark subgenre of high fantasy or the “anti-Tolkien.” That, before The Black Company, high fantasy was most often populated with stories of heroes performing heroic deeds on a quest to save their world or kingdom or some such nonsense. And that Glen Cook deserves recognition for helping to move us past all those do-gooder fairy tales into darker tales filled with shades of gray. Tales where it’s often hard to sort out the heroes from the villain, or their roles may reverse over time—it’s all a matter of perspective. He helped pave the way for some popular series we all know and love such as The First Law or Game of Thrones. But this is no Game of Thrones, more like . . . JUDGE - holds up hand: That’s quite enough, sir. Let me stop you there, before you embarrass yourself any further. I’ll not be hearing any history lessons from you today. Your ignorance of the subject is rather self-evident.Motion denied. The court finds enough probable cause here to carry this matter over to trial. Bailiff, please remand the defendant into custody. WRONGREADER 2.0: But, but my friends are all heathens. You can’t believe their lies! You can't trust their opinions! JUDGE: Yes, heathens and Glen Cook do tend to go hand in hand. Now . . .WRONGREADER 2.0 - shouts: Please, be reasonable, Your Honor. I’d be willing to round my rating up, if you’d reconsider your ruling.JUDGE: You should stop right there, lest you’d like me to tack on a charge for attempting to bribe an officer of the court. Bailiff, remove this man from my courtroom. Oh and, find him a copy of books two and three.Mr. Wrongreader, I suggest you use your time wisely. I’d advise you to continue on with the series, until your eyes are opened to the brilliance of Glen Cook. If, however, you choose to remain steadfastly blind to your own ignorance, I suggest you take a long walk off a short pier. Now, settle those nerves, and try to enjoy your time with us. I have a feeling you may be in for a long stay. *Cackles*

  • Bogdan
    2019-03-05 10:15

    This is my first read of 2017 and a hell of a book, if I may say.Very interesting aproach to a new fantasy world, this time we have a Company of mercenaries serving the bad Sorceress in a hundred year war.If I may say this looked like a Sven Hassel book with a dark fantasy background.The story it`s very grimm, it has some tones of humor, but overall the thing are deadly serious and people get killed all the time so I understand why Eriksson has said that this fantasy serie has single handedly changed the face of fantasy.The Generals of the bad Sorceress have very sugestive and inspired names for their abilities, The Dreamcatcher, The Limper, Shapeshifter, SoulCatcher, The Howler, HangingMan, Dream Whisperer, StormBringer etc. and so I manage to keep all of them under close attention.The story it`s well made, it has her surprises, but I must make a thing clear. In the begining you need to have a lot of pacience and wait so that the story and characters have time to unfold in a more deeper way. But after that you`ll see that you`ll get your rewards in a big way.Overall I enjoyed a lot this book and having starting the second one, that picks up in the vicinity of the first, with a different structure of the action I`m capable to foresee the deepness of this serie.This first one has a lots of battles and war schemes going on, with traitors and hiddens plans, all of them finished with a big tower siege in the end of the book. Maybe it isn`t fair to compare writers, but If I think good, this book has a lot of the same dark humor and appeal that a Abercrombie book has on me so I`m glad that from now on I have a lot of reading by Glen Cook to do.Because it has all of the great things that I love in a fantasy book and more, because it didn`t disappointed me, this first book gets five stars.It really couldn`t be a more fine beginning of 2017!

  • Troy G
    2019-02-28 07:39

    You will either love this book or hate it. It is like nothing else ever written. It is the gateway to a series that is consistently better with each novel, but this novel is so polarizing that you might never be able to appreciate the series for what a masterwork it is.First, the book is told from a first person perspective by an unreliable narrator in a vernacular that is less flowery than is common for fantasy works. This is often the thing that turns people off to this book, but I encourage you to read the rest of my review before you make your decision.The key to this book is the above mentioned narrator. He is cynical. His view of fantastical events is often that of you or me watching the mail be delivered. He is sure that the world doesn't reward good deeds in the same way that it doesn't punish sins. I could compare it to something like Catch-22 or Old Man's War, but really none of those comparisons do it justice. Suffice to say that the voice telling this story is distinct, unique, and endlessly fascinating. Those who want stories of happy elves frolicking in the forest, where good guys wear white and always wins may find this tone distasteful.The next great gift of this book is the camaraderie of Soldiers. Those who face trial and conflict together for a long time build a bond that we can appreciate, but not fully understand without being there ourselves. Glen Cook has a way of showing us this bond without telling. Reading this I was able to appreciate the bond more than ever, and I was forced to recognize the lack of it in every other novel I've ever read. If you read this book, it will alter you expectations forever.I recommend this book to everyone. Those that are well read will appreciate it the most, but anyone should be able to read this for themselves. Because it is a story of violence, and doesn't cringe away from it, children should probably not read this book.

  • David Sven
    2019-03-21 12:38

    Position Vacant:The Black Company is now recruiting in your city. All applications considered. No credit checks, no criminal history checks, no psychological tests, no moral aptitude tests. No matter how dark your history the “Black” in Black Company is Black enough to blot out all your past sins.Prerequisites: We prefer those who are experienced at “wet work.” If you have never killed anyone, we can provide on the job training but one must consider carefully before hand if you can undergo such training without developing severe emotional problems – actually any squeamishness at all would indicate you are possibly not a sociopath and may be unsuitable for recruitment.Pay, food, and sleep negotiable. Rape and Pillage not looked on favourably. We always look the other way.All queries regarding this position can be lodged with our Customer Service Officer, Silence. PS: Magic users in high demand. We have a shortage of magic users. In fact we have no wizards or magicians, sorcerers, or soothsayers at all. Really we don’t.Signed Croaker.“A Black conscience is a Clear conscience”Company CreedClassifieds.Having trouble with your people seeing things your way? Suffering from an ungrateful population? Need help with crowd control? Introducing The Black Company. An elite fighting force with an outstanding tradition of military service spanning centuries. Our history may be black but we have earned a flawless reputation for seeing out our commissions and sticking to our high ideals. We do not engage in questionable activities. That is, whatever the activity, we ask no questions except of course “how much?” Signed Croaker“Dont Judge Us, We won’t Judge you”Company Motto----------------------------------------------------------------------I found this book really hard to judge properly. On the surface of it, there isn’t any one thing this book does that is particularly outstanding.Characterization? Not terrible, but not fantastic either. I liked the main POV character Croaker. Fight scenes and battles? Mostly understated and often underwhelming, but still passable and to be fair there were a couple of decent encounters. Probably some of the my favourite encounters were the mini mage battles between two of the squad mages in an ongoing mostly friendly if slightly spiteful competition. Magic system. Well we have half of those. There is magic but no well defined “system.” But the sorcerers and ascended beings in the book were still quite interesting and I’m left wanting to know more about the Taken, The Lady and The Dominator and the lore behind them.And yet the book still manages a subtle appeal that held my attention from start to finish. Being a shortish book probably helped there. I think this book does everything “well enough” that when put all together still worked for me somewhat. The plot development was actually good. The subtext of war’s moral ambiguity, and the mindset of a soldier who does not believe in the cause he’s fighting was poignant in that if you take the magic away and gave the soldiers machine guns and grenades, this could just as easily been a documentary on any modern war. There’s another underlying theme of tradition vs adaptability, integrity vs expediency.Glen Cook’s writing style also leaves a lot for you to figure out for yourself. If you already have enough information to work out the significance of certain events and actions, he doesn’t spell it out for you – he just assumes you should know. It’s this style that is an obvious influence of Steven Erikson’s Malazan series. Having read all of the Malazan books I can see Erikson used Cook’s portrayal of comraderie, disrespect for authority and interaction between soldiers in a tight military unit as the cookie cutter for every military squad in his series. Erikson does it better though with more fleshed out battle scenes, better humour, world building and magic system. He also adds 1000 pages to his books as well.Anyway, The Black Company is told from the first person perspective by Croaker, the physician, official chronicler and imperfect conscience for The Black Company, which finds itself in the employ of evil. 3 stars for now until I can mull over the after taste.

  • Ahmad Sharabiani
    2019-03-22 10:32

    The Black Company (The Chronicles of the Black Company #1), Glen CookThe Black Company is a series of dark fantasy books written by American author Glen Cook. The series combines elements of epic fantasy and dark fantasy as it follows an elite mercenary unit, The Black Company, through roughly forty years of its approximately four-hundred-year history.عنوان: سرگذشت گروهان سیاه، کتاب اول - گروهان سیاه؛ نویسنده: گلن کوک؛ مترجم: آیدا کشوری؛ تهران، نشر کتابسرای تندیس، 1393؛ در 397 ص؛ شابک: 9786001821332؛این مجموعه شرح چهل سال از تاریخ چهارصد ساله گروه نخبگان مزدور، گروهان سیاه، آخرین گروهان آزاد کاتوار است. گلن کوک فانتزی و داستانهای نظامی را در تصویر واقع بینانه شخصیت و درگیری‌های رئیس گروهان مخلوط کرده است. سرگذشت اصلی شامل نه رمان است که ان را می‌توان به سه بخش تقسیم کرد: سفر به شمال (کتاب‌های شمال: گروهان سیاه؛ سایه های ابدی، رز سپید) که آشنایی گروهان با امپراتوری بانوی؛ کتاب‌های: جنوب و سفر بازگشت گروهان به دنبال آغاز خود در کاتووار، کتابهای: سنگ‌های درخشان و دستیابی گروهان به پیروزی مقابل دشمنان کارفرمایشان و حرکت آنها به سمت سرنوشت. کتاب گروهان سیاه از سوی یکی از تسخیرشدگان با نام روح‌بند ناخواسته و ناآگاه به خدمت بانو درمی‌آیند و به خواست او می‌جنگند. طبیب سرگذشت گروهان را در این دوره ‌ی پرمخاطره بازگو می‌کند. ا. شربیانی

  • Eric
    2019-02-26 05:38

    After finishing each of the first three novels in Chronicles of the Black Company, the so-called Books of the North, I was left with that indescribable sense of satisfaction that comes with finishing a great story, but I was also left with a question. That question reached the height of it's baffling power after finishing The Black Company, and though I had the answer to it the question still lingered while reading Shadows Linger and The White Rose. That question? Why have so many modern day fantasy novels chosen not to follow in the footsteps of one of the classics of modern fantasy?Don't get me wrong: when it comes to dark, deconstructionist fantasy Cook's influence can easily be recognized. But too few modern fantasies, even the dark ones, have the same kind of grit that The Black Company has. The type of grit that comes from the in-the-trenches type of military literature, regardless of being fiction or non-fiction. Looking at the other reviews on Goodreads I learned that Glen Cook had actually served in the U.S. Navy (apparently he even came close to being deployed to Vietnam). Oh, I thought, that explains everything. In the middle of a dead end commission for a minor lord of Beryl the Black Company, the last of the Free Companies of Khatovar, are given an offer from a mysterious, unsettling sorcerer called Soulcatcher to enter his employ, and subsequently the employ of his superior, the Lady, in her campaign of conquest in the North. The Black Company values two thing and two things only; fulfilling their contract to the best of their abilities , and looking out for their fellow Black Company brothers. After terminating their current contract in a way that some would describe as dishonorable, this modest-sized band of mercenaries seeks to fulfill their latest one to the letter, no matter how despicable the military force they've attached themselves to turns out to be. Considering that that military force is commanded by a centuries-old sorceress known simply as the Lady who is as terrifyingly powerful as she is breathtakingly beautiful... and that her subordinates are the Taken, twelve sorcerers who possess a scary amount of power in their own right, and whose individual evil and cruelty can match and sometimes even surpass that of their mistress... well, let's just say it can get pretty damn despicable.The Black Company and the various warriors, rogues, jokers, hardasses, and scoundrels that make up its' membership are soldiers through and through. They're as professional, cynical, unpolitical, diabolically clever, and brutally efficient on the battlefield as you would expect career soldiers in a medieval fantasy world wracked with war and dark magic to be on the battlefield. And they're as unprofessional, immature, greedy, ignorant, violent, and bleakly humorous as you would expect career soldiers in a medieval fantasy world wracked with war and dark magic to be off the battlefield. A military campaign in fantasy world from the point of view of a soldier was a novel concept back when Cook first published this, and to this day it remains so. When it comes to war and battles in the majority of fantasy stories you're in the head of the movers and shakers; the kings, lords, commanders, and Chosen Ones. Even then its usually one or two battles in a few of the books in the series. It makes sense since for many it would be rather difficult to capture that military grit without doing a ton of research on military campaigns and how historians, journalists, and soldiers typically describe them, and how soldiers typically behave when doing their job. Glen Cook had personal experience so he knew could do the latter, and he had been an avid writer since his youth so he could certainly do the former if he put his mind to it.I do not exaggerate when I say this novel reads like the surreal, nightmare correspondence of a war journalist in a medieval fantasy war. Our narrator Croaker, the sole physician in the Company, is even the record-keeper for the Black Company's Annals. For all intents and purposes he is war journalist! (He even fancies himself an amateur historian!) It's his job to record every crucial mission (reconnaissance, assassination, ambush, sneaking, you name it), every battle (even if its only one sentence), and every interaction with the movers and shakers of the war and the Black Company itself, even if it requires his involvement. Which it frequently does, to his displeasure. Unless it concerns the Lady. Then Croaker is at full attention. Even though he's self-aware and self-deprecating enough to know how troubling and idiotic (to put it mildly) his infatuation with the Lady is he can't help himself. Unfortunately for him (but fortunately for us) his crush catches the attention and amusement of the queen-bitch of the universe, and She gives him unprecedented access to Her person that no mortal has had before. Her reason for doing so is a surprising one: She wants Croaker to present Her war as it is in all its' brutal, black-and-grey complexity. He succeeds.There are no self-proclaimed villains, only regiments of self-proclaimed saints. Victorious historians rule where good or evil lies. We abjure labels. We fight for money and an indefinable pride. The politics, the ethics, the moralities, are irrelevant.4 1/2 stars

  • Eilonwy
    2019-03-11 05:18

    4-1/2 stars, and may get rounded up. I was afraid to read this book, because dark, bleak military fantasy? So not my thing. So even though Markus's updates really caught my imagination a year or so ago, I had this series on my mental "probably never going to read" list. Then all my friends in the Buddies Books and Baubles group started a buddy read, and I knew I would kick myself if I didn't join in. And I'm so glad I did. 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 own mourners. It is the Company against the world. Thus it has been and ever will be. Over its 300-plus-year history, the Black Company has fought for whoever is willing to pay them. Its members join to forget their pasts and forge a new self from hardship and the focus of battle. And yet they themselves may be remembered through the Annals, kept continuously throughout the Company's existence. The current Annalist is Croaker, the Company's physician, and it is through his eyes that this story unfolds as the Company joins itself in service to the Lady, a magician so powerful as to be nearly a goddess, and her court of Taken, wizards with whom she shares her powers. The Company's job is to squelch the Rebel forces who believe the Lady is evil and chafe against her rule. This is a story full of magic, grit, and moral ambiguity. Twists and whiplash-inducing shifts keep the pacing taut and fast-moving. The first chapter or so is really confusing, as the reader is simply tossed into the story with no background and no info-dumping, just Croaker's straight-forward statements about what's happening. For me, figuring out what was going on was half the fun, although my reading was a little slow, as I had to keep doubling back to reread bits when I figured out "oh, that's what that was about!" I've seen some reviewers here complain about the writing style, but I personally loved it. It's raw and bare-boned, with no flowery descriptions or metaphors, but I found it deeply evocative and resonant. It created a mood that held me in its spell even when I wasn't reading. Yes, the story is grim and dark, but I found it to be a good kind of grim, fitting the seriousness of what the Company does. The book avoids outright gruesomeness for the most part (one character accuses Croaker of writing the "sugar-and-spice version" of events), for which I was personally grateful. Croaker acknowledges the ugly side of mercenary soldiering, but does not glorify or revel in it. And there are bits of humor, especially between the Company's two wizards, that break up the heaviness. I don't want to say too much more about this book, because honestly, I think it's best read without too clear an idea of what to expect. Most of it took me completely by surprise, in a good way. Now on to Book Two!

  • TS Chan
    2019-03-02 05:27

    I read this at a time when I really couldn't concentrate very much on my reading, what more one of the grimdark fantasy genre. As such, I fear I might not be giving due justice to a book of such stature amongst fans of this subgenre. Glen Cook is known as the father of grimdark, way before Joe Abercrombie, Steven Erikson and George R.R. Martin. The Black Company is a military fantasy book and is about a brotherhood, known as the Company, that serves whomever that employs them in war. The premise is different from other fantasy that I've read because there isn't the typical "fight between good and evil". And told in the form of annals written by the Company's physician, the style of writing is also quite unlike anything I've read before even in comparison to single POV books. I can see the inspiration that Erikson drew from Cook as I sometimes find the interaction between the characters of the Company very similar to that of the Bridgeburners or Bonehunters from the Malazan series. Probably one of my favourite aspects of both Erikson and Cook's books, the interaction between the characters feels very real, as does the development of the connection between soldiers/marines who fight and die together.