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Chronicles of the Black Company Paperback – November 13, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 274 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“With the Black Company series Glen Cook single-handedly changed the face of fantasy--something a lot of people didn't notice and maybe still don't. He brought the story down to a human level, dispensing with the cliché archetypes of princes, kings, and evil sorcerers. Reading his stuff was like reading Vietnam War fiction on peyote.” ―Steven Erikson, author of Gardens of the Moon

About the Author

Glen Cook lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

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"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Series: Chronicles of The Black Company
  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (November 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765319233
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765319234
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (274 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The Black Company stands apart from other works in the genre. True, it's the story of an epic struggle, a rebellion against a dark sorceress, and a prophecy. But this story is told from a very human perspective. It's stripped of the grandeur and nobility found in other fantasy fiction. The characters are real in a way that most other fantasy characters aren't: you can't pin them down. In fact, it often seems as though Cook's overriding point in these novels is to keep reminding us that nobody is either purely good or purely evil.

This edition collects the first three novels of the Black Company, what the stories refer to as the Books of the North. All three are told from the perspective Croaker, the physician/narrator whose selective storytelling shows us the realism of a mystical war. He admits to -- and glosses over -- the shortcomings of his brethren, and shows us his own limitations as a narrator. It feels as though Croaker is a war correspondent, intent on telling the truth, but unable and unwilling to share everything he sees and feels. The limitations Cook places on Croaker can frustrate; at times, plot twists appear out of nowhere, due to events that took place outside of Croaker's presence. But by sticking to this narrative form, Cook provides the reader with an easy way in. Before you know it, you'll have accepted Croaker's world, and you'll want more.

Despite the size of this edition, the Black Company novels are a quick read. Cook doesn't waste words with frilly descriptions, and he pares his sentences down to their most basic elements. The spare writing style keeps the story moving along at a rapid clip. There isn't a phrase or sentence you can get away with skipping.
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Format: Paperback
I had already begun Steven Erickson's Malazan Book of the Fallen series (which bears an obvious and admitted debt to Cook's works) prior to delving into this omnibus. I knew that the two series shared similarities, but knew precious little of the Black Company before I began.

Those similarities are pretty evident: both write in a rather clipped style and much attention is paid to military conflict. There are also some pretty big differences. Cook seems not at all interested in world building--city and town names are given with little detail given to where they are in relationship to each other and there is no map included with the book. In a lot of fantasy, a lot of the story is the journey; here, much of the journey is simply summarized. In the world of the Black Company, these details are not as important as the people who undertake them.

I also found the characters in Cook's world to be much more three-dimensional. This isn't a knock on Erickson, since he is juggling many more characters, but there are certain archetypes that show up in Malazan that serve the same function but in different portions/time periods of the world (comic relief, mysterious old god, etc.).

There was also a romantic thread that ran through all of these three books that started out as coloring and then blossomed into a major plot strand that I particularly liked, as it allowed the hard men and women who inhabit these books a chance to be more human.

I think both Erickson and Cook's works are worthy reads for anyone who enjoys fantasy: both write conflict-heavy page-turners that you'll being racing through to see what happens next. If you're looking for something epic and complicated, then Erickson is your man; if you're prefer something more straightforward and self-contained, then this omnibus is for you. Fans of one author who have never read the other are hereby encouraged to do so.
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Format: Paperback
The annals of the Black Company is one of my all time favorite fantasy settings and series and one that no fan of the genre should pass up. I was very excited to see this book available recently (Though I wish it were a Hardcover...)
This contains the first three novels of the ~10 novel series and comprises the first major plot arc involving the introduction of the mercenary group "The Black Company", their rise to power, and their near destruction. Cook's writing style comes off as concise and to the point with dry humour and classic characters. Throughout these books you will see the characters grow in power and wisdom, changing roles within the Company as they mature. The primary character, Croaker, at times seems like a witty "every mans hero" and at others is truly inspired by greatness and heroism. The story follows him and the other black hearted criminals, wizards and odds and ends that comprise the company. Fantasy elements are at times very light making it seem very real world and dangerous, characters die, get stabbed, get sick and get crippled. At other times wizards conjure deadly magics and physics and reality are tossed out the window for massive battles of magical powers.

All in all every single moment of these books is very satisfying and will leave you wanting more. Upon reading the final sentence of the final book I felt a real sense of completion, though I wished for more stories I was not unhappy with where things ended.

Only complaints: Bring a hardcover! Write another book! We want to know what happens to the soldiers that lived!
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