The third novel in Glen Cook’s Chronicles of the Black Company, this features the climactic conflict between the forces of The Lady, The White Rose, and The Dominator, with the remnants of the Black Company doing their thing. It continues with the series’s strange mix of down to earth and high Fantasy.
Croaker is back to record the story of the Black Company. He’s getting old, his fellows, those few who survive, aren’t any younger. They’re stuck in a weird and alien environment, mostly living in hiding. The forces of Old and Evil are on the march and things look pretty grim.
Thanks to some mysterious letters, we start to see the story of the events that led to the release of The Lady and the Taken from the perspective of those involved. Glimpses into some concepts of a greater world and a deeper history. I like that it subverts expectations on several occasions. In fact, that’s one of this series’s stronger elements. The subversion of expectation is strong. The book isn’t plotted in a typical way. The characters aren’t typical. The resolution of conflicts aren’t really typical, either.
The way this book plays out, the final conflict between the major powers, it’s unexpected, to say the least.
I don’t know where Glen Cook took things after this. I know there are several more books about The Black Company. Due to its nature, I could see completely new casts, different geographic settings, different temporal settings, and different conflicts. Or perhaps there are more stories to be told about those who see this story to its end. I don’t know.
Whatever the case, I’d definitely recommend it for Fantasy fans, especially those interested in the so-called Grimdark subgenre (Warhammer and the like).
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