The Black Company is the series of books by the author Glen Cook. The first book in the series is titled “The Black Company” appropriately enough, and it was published on 1984, making this to be the second oldest book I have ever read at the time of this writing, with Terry Pratchett’s “The Color of Magic” being just published one year before.
The book series details the adventures of a mercenary group of soldiers, called The Black Company, who is one of the last independent companies. The Black Company has the history spanning for thousands of years, though due to the wars and losses, a lot of it is lost.
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.
(Many thanks to goodreads, for providing the summary, and encouraging my laziness.)
My reading experiences:
The story takes place in a medieval setting, (How typical,) more specifically, somewhere around 1400 to 1500, judging from the siege tactics. I could be wrong though so take it with a grain of salt, (With some helping of spice,) since I’m no expert in medieval war tactics.
The book is presented through the first-person point-of-view of Croaker, who is the historian of the company, and a physician as well.
I don’t think it would be considered a spoiler if I say that despite his non-action role, he does ends up in a lot of the action.
Later, a mysterious man named Raven joins the company, naturally, it is not his real name. Croaker notes that none of them actually use their real names since joining the company.
While there is a lot of doom and gloom in the book, what with wars and everything, the most amusing thing for me is an entirely different matter.
You see, Croaker, our narrator, aside from performing battlefield surgery, and writing the annals of history for the company, is romantically smitten by The Lady, or at least the thought of her.
Naturally, The Lady is a villainess, so it went as well as you can expect. By the end of the book, he is pretty disenchanted. If he had some more guts, he might even have tried to kill her, but since he doesn’t, The Lady survives for the next book.
His brethren from the company haven’t let him live this one down, and I won’t either. Croaker, what were you thinking?
I like the books which move fast. Don’t dither for too long, explain the situation, and then capitalize on it. and The Black Company is one such book. It is presented through seven large chapters, but despite that, I never felt that it dragged on for too long.
Another point in this book’s favor in my opinion, is that all the characters involved are humans. Yes, they might have sorcery, but compare to some hoard like enemy in the usual fantasy world, it is much better. If you’ve been reading my articles for a while, you’ve probably read my complains about that more than once.
And I’ll keep complaining. Making humans heroes, and some inhuman race as villains is an easy way out. I think we all should learn by now that humans are the biggest villains in this solar system, if not the entire universe. (Incidentally, if you’re an intergalactic civilization of villains, forget what I’ve just written. You guys are the better villains, please don’t kill me.)
With that said, I believe I should warn you. if you expect these mercenaries to be heroic, forget it. they are not. And the world which has been presented so far is also bleak. If you don’t like that sort of stuff, then please avoid this book. Otherwise, go ahead, plunge yourself headfirst in this dark gritty world.
Also, there was a talk of a TV series in 2018. But aside from
In which everyone think about which actress can play The Lady, nothing more has come of it.
But if it ever gets a release, you can be sure that I will review it, right on this blog.
I was about to publish this review later, but dubbed Emotions expressed her excitement for this book series, and given she is the first Blogging friend I’ve made, I dedicate this review to her. You can visit her blog
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