|UserReviews 6Approval 89%Album Ratings 6Last Active 11-13-17 11:08 pmJoined 01-18-14Forum Posts 1Review Comments 1,651
|The Black Company Ranked|
I’ve been very nostalgic about this series recently. Reading it meant a lot to me at the time. It’s not my favourite fantasy series ever, but an extremely important and transgressive one. When I went into it I expected it to be very black-and-white, good guys vs bad guys and all that fantasy nonsense but things are considerably more complex than that and many shades of grey are present.
The Silver Spike - Holy fuck everything about this book is awful. I guess Cook was contractually obligated to write this one and it’s plain that his heart was not in it. We pick up with the characters left behind at the end of The White Rose. Silent and Darling were two of my favourite supporting characters in the original trilogy and the damage that is done by the misguided attempt to romantically link them here is crippling. The Limper is back yet again, does that motherfucker ever stay dead? Good sort of triumphs in the end but fuck, this is not a long book yet it's still a depressing slog.
Saturday Night Wrist
The Black Company - Though this is a classic in many ways, it’s also the second roughest read of the bunch. The whole first quarter is a stream-of-consciousness mess that makes very little sense. Things pick up significantly after the first act however. The premise of this initial novel is that the Black Company makes a contract with Lady, a supernatural tyrant who is taking over the world and crushing all dissidents beneath her heel. The novel reads like a military log as The Black Company murders The Lady’s enemies one by one as they trudge from one horrific battle to the next. Towards the end, as they prove to be Lady’s greatest weapon, they begin to question if they are fighting on the right side, ultimately deserting her.
Bleak Seasons - This book is hard to analyze. We are introduced to a new protagonist, Murgen, the standard-bearer for the Black Company who is not only terribly unfixed in time and going insane but is also in the middle of a protracted siege where two very different cultures are trapped together with dwindling resources. This novel is as fascinating as it is horrific though the narrative can be very jarring as it often jumps through time.
Soldiers Live - It took me a long time to mull this book over but I’ve decided it’s a very fitting conclusion to the series. The best thing about it is that when The Black Company started, it was all white dudes with one token black guy. By the end of this book, The Black Company is 99% black with a couple of token white guys. The cultural shift that happens over time in these books is perhaps the most fascinating thing about it and extremely progressive. I was initially disappointed because the massive battles and life-or-death peril are kind of non-factors in this book. But upon further reflection this is the ending the story needed. The protagonists have grown old and are trying to pass the torch to the next generation which is tricky because The Black Company doesn’t father children typically, they mostly absorb the young people from civilizations they conquer. The storyline of Croaker’s adopted daughters is fascinating as he tries to father these 2 alien girls after his own
natural daughter was stolen and used against him. Things are tied up very neatly yet in a very melancholy way. The only part of this novel I hate is the arc of Tobo, Murgen’s son, who is basically the young Darth Vader of the series and possesses all the likability of Hayden Christiansen.
She Is The Darkness - This book is crazy. They FINALLY take out Longshadow, that damn elusive motherfucker, but in doing so fall headlong into Soulcatcher’s trap. The book ends with all the main characters being turned to stone, making it one hell of a cliffhanger. Character arcs are amazing and some fantastic sub-characters step up to be MVPs, like Blade, who I can’t help but picture as Wesley Snipes with sweet shades.
|5||Jack Off Jill|
Clear Hearts Grey Flowers
Shadows Linger -Most underrated BC book. Tightly plotted with no dangling loose ends or pointless subplots like the first book. The Black Company deserted Lady and is holed up in a shitty town as they plan they’re next move because the lake has frozen over leaving them landlocked. It turns out that there’s something very nefarious going on in the town. They say many years ago before this town existed, a traveller was passing through when he came upon a mysterious black stone. When he touched it he dropped dead. And the stone grew. Now in the present, an obsidian castle overlooks the town from its outskirts, ignored by the townspeople, and at night shadowy figures leave the castle to dig up graveyards. While this is happening, Lady is closing in on The Black Company to exact her revenge. This novel is amazing. One of the main protagonists here is a poor bastard named Shed who is a pathetic, loathsome, inconsequential human being who winds up playing a significant role in the narrative.
|4||How to Destroy Angels|
Shadow Games - This book rules. The decimated Black Company enters uncharted lands and proceeds to conquer city after city, building their ranks back up while the relationship between Croaker and Lady grows more complex. Croaker is finding out he is an expert military commander, crushing army after army but at the very end things go horribly wrong — a true Empire Strikes Back ending. Croaker makes a crucial miscalculation and his cavalry is destroyed and Lady appears to be killed. All this while Soulcatcher, Lady’s insane sister who has been stalking Croaker the whole time takes him captive in order to sow her decapitated head back onto her body. End of this book is fucking gnarly.
The Royal Thousand
The White Rose - An epic climax and conclusion to the first trilogy. While The Black Company is at a stalemate against Lady, they hole up in The Plain Of Fear which is a strange ethereal desert populated by unseemly creatures and phenomena almost from an acid-addled Dr. Seuss book. The complex relationship between Croaker and Lady full-on pays off here as the final battle takes place and The Black Company is fractured forever. The only reason this isn’t higher is that there were some disappointing resolutions to certain subplots; there’s some cop-out magical tree bullshit that happens at the end, and the conclusion of the Tracker & Toadkiller Dog subplot (one of the most fascinating in the series) is very disappointing; it was building towards something really complex and grey but Cook dropped the ball with that one. Still a fantastic novel, just one that makes a few rather poor choices.
|2||If These Trees Could Talk|
Water Sleeps - Holy shit this book is amazing and such a left-turn. Since the entire cast of main characters was taken out at the end of the last book, the peripheral characters become the major protagonists in this one including Sleepy who steps up in a major way to become the next leader of the Black Company. This book is about guerilla warfare as the Black Company is reduced to scraps and trapped in Taglios where SoulCatcher has become queen and gone full-Cersei insane. The narrative is very outside the box, Glen Cook is such an amazing writer, always defying expectations when I think I have him pegged.
Ride the Lightning
Dreams Of Steel - Picking up from Shadow Games, this book is split between Lady and Croaker’s storylines. Croaker is at the mercy of the beautifully insane Soulcatcher as he tries to befriend her and gain some kind of leverage while Lady’s world is turned upside down when friends become enemies and she must once again step up and become a dictator to salvage and control a rapidly deteriorating situation, stranded in foreign lands. This book is just incredible. Massive twists and turns abound and the parallel narrative is as satisfying as it is contrasting.
|I wonder if any of you motherfuckers read this shit too. Probably not. |
|Ive read the first five books, I like the first one the best. Have you read the malazan book of the fallen?|
|I read chronicles of the black company a long time ago but remember almost none of it|
|So did you finish Dreams of Steel? And why is the first book your favourite? No, I haven't read Malazan, I'm not into high-fantasy like that. More into Joe Abercrombie, Daniel Abraham, Matthew Stover, Mark Lawrence, stuff like that. |