As a fantasy fan for many years, I can only hang my head in shame that I had missed the Black Company books when they were originally released.
The series tells the tale of the Black Company, "last of the free companies of Khatovar" - a mercenary group with a long history and a proud tradition of working for whoever pays - good or bad. With a few notable expections, the heroes of the Black Company are nothing but, and many of the members have very dark pasts.
When a job protecting a city ruler goes sour, the Company betrays their commission and enters the service of the Lady - the immortal and evil ruler of a reborn empire.
In a refreshing change to the usual fantasy epic, the Company is therefore fighting for the dark side, which creates some wonderful dilemmas for the few men serving who retain a sense of morality.
The strength of the Black Company books are the interesting dilemmas this situation creates, and the excellent action scenes. The writing style is minimalist, which gives the plot an edgy pace and avoids the tedious meandering that sabotages the Lond of the Rings, but sometimes it goes too far - especially in the earlier books, when I found myself wishing for some description to go along with the dialogue. As such, the main characters initially seem flat, because we have no real idea what they look like, or what the world they inhabit is truly like.
Luckily these criticisms (hence the four stars) fade as the series progresses and Glen Cook matures as a writer. It is easy to see here the seeds that would appear to have taken root in the mind of Steven Erikson in the Malazan saga, and in retrospect the recent rennaisance of low fantasy owes a lot to the Black Company.
In summary: if, like me, you missed out before, do not do so again!