Customer Reviews


64 Reviews
5 star:
 (42)
4 star:
 (11)
3 star:
 (4)
2 star:
 (4)
1 star:
 (3)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Non-Stereotypical Fantasy
There aren't any characters who are pure good or evil, like you normally see in this genre. Instead, what we have are varying shades of gray. (In that way only, would I compare it to George RR Martin's Song of Ice and Fire) The Black Company is a mercenary army... and they've fallen on desperate times.
Some of its members honestly seem like they want to do the right...
Published on 11 Dec 2002 by Dan Dean

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I had heard a lot of positives about this book and a few negatives, but I was looking forward to this. Sadly I was very disappointed and I fall into the ‘didn’t enjoy it’ camp.

The author does not go for much world building or scene setting, he just chucks us into the story. The Black Company are a brotherhood of mercenaries, they are not...
Published 8 months ago by Nick Brett


‹ Previous | 1 27 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Non-Stereotypical Fantasy, 11 Dec 2002
By 
Dan Dean (Myrtle Beach, SC USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Black Company (Chronicle of the Black Company) (Mass Market Paperback)
There aren't any characters who are pure good or evil, like you normally see in this genre. Instead, what we have are varying shades of gray. (In that way only, would I compare it to George RR Martin's Song of Ice and Fire) The Black Company is a mercenary army... and they've fallen on desperate times.
Some of its members honestly seem like they want to do the right thing. Some simply try to survive. And others will pillage, rape, or murder on occasion. This reminded me of some of the better War films I've seen. Such harsh circumstances can lead to diminished morals in some men, and I enjoyed that element of realism.
Each chapter of this book reads like a separate mission, with its own conflict and resolution. This approach worked well here in my opinion. Right from chapter one, we are introduced to the Black Company and plunged into action, through the writings of the army's annalist, Croaker. Unfortunately, you may feel like you've missed some important details, as Cook bombards you with names, events, and his advanced vocabulary. He doesn't explain everything very well at first, and it can be quite confusing.
After finishing the second chapter, I went and reread the first chapter to iron out some details, and that helped out quite a bit. From then on, it was smooth sailing and well worth my patience. With plenty of action, and a few laughs- this was a pretty entertaining read!
-Lysander
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In the Black, 19 Sep 2010
This review is from: The Black Company (Chronicle of the Black Company) (Mass Market Paperback)
This is fantasy of the old school sword and sorcery variety. This comes broadly in two species, Trad fantasy where good is good and evil is evil. Evil always wants to rule/ destroy the world and the good usually stop them. Wizards are old men in big hats and the worlds saviour usually starts off as a kitchen/stable boy. See Tolkien, Jordan and Fiest.
Then there is the grimmer fantasy started by Paul Anderson back in the fifties where the lines between good and evil are more more blurred if they excist at all and there is usually a good deal more descriptive detail of violent acts and a greater chance of your favourite characters being killed off. Most famous of these writers at the moment are Martin, Abercrombie, Lynch and perhaps most relevent here Erikson.

I say that because Erikson has made no secret of his admiration of Glen Cook's work and there is a clear bridge between the two styles. Both make the central characters soldiers and wizards, rather than Kings and Princes.
Both set the action in the grimy trenches with rest of the grunts and both make magic wielders much more human, fallible and colourful than the typical ancient, white bearded, staff wielding ones in trad fantasy. There are plenty of them too! Soul Catcher, Whisper, The Hanged man, Storm Bringer and The Limper to name just some.

The story follows a band of Mercenries, the 'Black Company' of the book title. The story is told by the Company's physician 'Croaker' who has responsibility for recording the exploits of the warrior band as well as patching them up. The Black Company find themselves caught in the middle of a civil war, as well as getting caught up in the rivalry of magicians. Add to this a mysterious stranger who jions the Company, the unwanted favour of their ruler 'The Lady' and the expected reincarnation of the 'White Rose' whose destiny is to depose the Lady!

To be honest not all that original but the joys of the book are not the plot but the time spent with the Company themselves. Croaker is a highly likeable character to journey with and the action is frequent and switches setting every chapter, so this really does feel like a Chronicle. Cook also creates a sense of brotherhood amongst the Company the themselves which is tangible. They squabble, fight, con and rib each other mercilessly but then risk all to save and support each other in the face of peril.

Good stuff! Very much a 'set up' book for the lengthy series that was to follow. A series I will definately follow for a bit. If you like your fantasy with a bit of dirt under the finger nails this will be one for you and fans of Erikson should certainly have a read!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant fantasy epic, without the epic formula., 4 Dec 1996
By A Customer
This review is from: The Black Company (Chronicle of the Black Company) (Mass Market Paperback)
The Black Company series is one of my all-time favorites.
I've been reading fantasy and science fiction since I was
a kid, and many of the books that I used to like, I find
that I've outgrown. This series, though, has remained a
favorite of mine, and recently I got a copy of the first
book, titled "The Black Company", to see if it was as
good as I remembered.

The book is structured as a series of episodes,
chronicling the lives of the core members of the Black
Company, a mercenary company with a history going back
thousands of years. Everything is told from the
viewpoint of Croaker, the company's head doctor, and
official historian. (One of this series' trademarks
is the abundance of evocative names, both people and
places. My favorite is "The Tower at Charm".)

In this first book, the setting is the struggle
between the Lady, who rules an empire with the help
of her enslaved sorcerors (called "The Taken"), and
the Rebels (of course). This conflict is raging
over the entire continent, with the Black Company
serving as a valuable pawn in the struggle. Usually,
the Company is in the thick of it, and Croaker's
viewpoint provides a gripping account of strategy,
intrigue, massive battles, and desperate chases.

I think this book is good because it incorporates a
lot of the great epic-style elements, such as the
titanic power struggles, while avoiding the usual
shortfalls of an epic, such as flatness in the
characters, and excessive, sometimes artificial
moralizing. There is no "struggle between good and
evil" in this book - the Rebels are just as bad as
the Lady and her minions. The characters, though,
are vivid, and, in the midst of this large-scale
warfare, brief moments of intimacy and sincerity
shine through, especially between members of the
Company, trying to help each other to survive in a
very imperfect world.

Gripping story. Wonderful characters. I'm glad
that the series is still in print.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent work of dark military fantasy., 29 Aug 2002
By 
Christopher Meadows (York, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
I cannot really praise this book too highly. While not the most verbose of writers, Cook manages to produce a fascinating plot and interesting characters. Note, I did not say characters that one may often like. Far from the stock fantasy tale of good vs. evil, this is more a tale of the combat between a greater and a lesser evil, told from the cynical and embittered view of one embroiled in the conflict.
The book focuses on the travails of a group of mercenaries who join what could be termed the 'legions of terror' because the pay is good. The prose is supposedly penned by their Annalist, Croaker; suffice to say it carries a certain gritty realism not often experienced in fantasy books. Each character comes across as human, rather than as a hero or a caricature of evil - each individual has their light and dark sides, as do the groups they are fighting for. It's a mark of the skill with which this world is created that the reader finds themselves empathising with the Company raqther thna with the Rebels. Indeed, the forces of evil seem to be a much better deal throughout this book.
In essence, this is a fantasy novel which allows the existence of grey areas, in a similar fashion to Brusts Jhereg texts. The characters are unpleasant, the plot steeped in real humanity rather than stereotypes, and containing enough twists and turns to keep you occupied in between the beautifully (and messily) written battle and skirmish scenes. In fact, just read it for the hilariously vile pranks the Company wizards play on each other...and their enemies.
If you like your fantasy characters to be polarised good and bad, this is not the book for you. However, if you like the existence of a gritty, human grey area which suggests that the defeat of evil may be a bad thing, alongside some excellent cgaracterisation and plotting...buy this.
Actually, buy it anyway. Its very good.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The most realistic fantasy book I've read!, 7 Jan 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Black Company (Chronicle of the Black Company) (Mass Market Paperback)
Unlike many fantasy books, Glen Cook places his characters not in a world of good and evil, but in a world where good and evil is not absolute. The perception of good and evil in many cases, depends upon the viewpoint of the observer. The reader of the book is drawn into a world much like ours, with sorcery added for flavor. The company, with it's many main characters, serves as the unwilling pawn of the powers that be, trying to "make a living" by doing what they do best and not "taking sides". In this way, they are portraying the human dilemma of feeling a part of the world they live in, yet having little control of their ultimate fate. Also unconventional to many fantasy series, the characters are intertwined in multiple "plots" at once, and their priorities and interests change as the events of their lives unfold. This realism causes a close relationship with the characters that is found in many of the favorite fantasy stories such as the Wheel of Time series and the Belgariad series. However, unlike the Wheel of Time, the Black Company series can be read (for the most part) in sets of three books each giving a sense of conclusion after each third book while still leaving the reader wanting more! The style of writing makes reading the book feel like you are "in the action" instead of feeling an observer, and is a refreshing change from the third person point of view. It is a fantasy book in all respects offering sorcery galore, battles, intrigue in a three dimensional style including an element of depth to the characters, world and plot that can't be found in the works of many authors. Perhaps the only reason the Black Company series is not placed alongside the Wheel of Time, the Shannara, the Belgariad and now The Wizard's First Rule (besides by those who have ventured to pick up the first book to read it,)is that Glen Cook does not produce the books as quickly. However, after reading the eighth book and latest release, I can still say that each wait, which seemingly torments, has resulted in pure delight and gratification. It is the beginning of a series that if not read yet, is a must for any fantasy reader of any age!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The literary springboard to a long, incredible Fantasy epic, 10 May 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Black Company (Chronicle of the Black Company) (Mass Market Paperback)
Like most SF/Fantasy readers I've visited Tolkien's works a number of times, along with the best (IMHO) heroic fantasy that Stephen R. Donaldson, and Roger Zelazny have had to offer. I've also read Robert Jordan, Raymond Feist, Terry Brooks, a little Micheal Moorcock, Dave Duncan, John Moressey, and a host of other author's works in this genre, but NOBODY's heroic fantasy, at least IMO, can touch Glen Cook in terms of sheer addictive power to his war-torn world and colorful, loveable and/or hateable cast of characters.
The synopsis or other reviews of this book can outline the basic story. I'll tell you what makes this series different. Cook is no Tolkien or any of these other writers, as Cook himself would be the first to admit. He could never write "The Lord of the Rings," or "The Chronicles of Amber" or "The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant." I doubt he'd even want to try. I wouldn't want him to; those books are practically sacred to me, and their authors have poured their lifeblood into making each of them his very own. For his part, Cook doesn't put on airs in his novels or try to dazzle you with his writing style; he doesn't paint landscapes like Middle-Earth or Amber or The Land. His characters don't spout forth into poetry or song fit for a Shakespearean tragedy, or launch into lengthy intellectual discourse. His story endings (or even his characters' sometimes violent "endings") simply aren't fairy tale material, and often are not very pretty.
What Glen Cook does, instead, is draw you in to his characters' dark, rich world and their adventuresome lives as if you were right there with them. Here there are no ultra-lofty goals or ideals, no pure black and white characters, no "ultimate" good or evil, no giant heroes or quick-fix artifacts to save the day. What this does is removes so much of the intense suspension of disbelief requirement inherent to enjoying fantasy. The reader still has to suspend disbelief in order to enjoy the stories, of! course, but Cook's stories are much more realistic.
That so much tonk (a card game) is played during the narrative of the first few books is all the evidence you need to prove that this book belongs to everyman; it is written in a common man's style, and can be enjoyed on that level alone.
The characters that populate such a real-seeming world are so very believable, so like many of the people we, the readers, know and associate with, that we can't help but be drawn in. In particular, the characterizations of Croaker, One-Eye, Goblin, Raven and finally, The Lady (in later works) are simply superb.
Another strength of Cook's writing is in his fascinating storylines. Admittedly, the ideas for the Dominator, and possibly The Lady, the war between the Rebel and the Empire, the medieval arms and warfare and magic users, the monstrous creatures and the overt bloodshed aren't very original, at least in terms of this well-trodden genre. Another previously used device is reflected by the fact that we never really get to see The Dominator (the boss antagonist waiting in the wings) at his height of power; it is this unknown quantity that makes him all the more horrifying--which is exactly the tack many horror writers have taken countless times before. Bram Stoker, for example, did this when he kept his Count Dracula almost completely offstage for a good third of his novel; for the reader this provided for a scare even worse than seeing the Count.
The Ten Who Were Taken (underlings of the Dominator and The Lady), however, is an idea of sheer genius and is quite original, as is the idea that our protagonists be a band of mercs who aren't very "good" people, with a clever physician/historian as the novel's narrator and first-person protagonist (at least in the first few books).
The rich and involving history of the Company, the Domination, the earlier war won by the White Rose that created the tombs at The Barrowland, the Plain of Fear, the freeing of The Lady and The Ten by Bomanz, etc., is woven ! in to add even more depth and originality to the stories. But there is so much more! Cook also throws political intrigue, backstabbing, plots and counterplots, story twists and re-twists and in-your-face surprises into the mix at every turn. The resultant brew, a most satisfying set of stories if there ever was one, should forever be known as classic in the fantasy genre. It is our duty, as Cook's legion of fans, to promote the truth that Cook is a master, and that The Black Company series is undoubtedly his masterpiece.
Ultimately, there is no other place to begin this wonderful saga than with the first novel, The Black Company. Pick it up as soon as you can, and join the rest of us in our ongoing struggle as one of the Company brethren. You won't regret it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slightly marred by human imperfection, 12 Dec 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Black Company (Chronicle of the Black Company) (Mass Market Paperback)
We are all guilty of writing bad sentences. If we didn't, we'd be writing big fat books, with countless sequels, and making squillions of dollars, not writing lame reviews voluntarily for an online site that has yet to make a decent profit. So Glen Cook is guilty of not having the perfect style of writing, in terms of making things flow like a nicely tuned car down a highway, but hey, he tells a strong tale, and shouldn't that be what counts? I started off reading horror, then science fiction, and now might make an in-road into fantasy as well because of this series. Written from an unreliable narrator's point of view, like its namesake, this is dark and unglorified images of war. Similar in the vein of Joe Haldeman's sci-fi classic "The Forever War", Cook throws questions out at loyalty, promises, ethics and morality, in relation to war. Ignore the errors and have a good read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best-ever pieces of dark fantasy and black humor, 21 Jun 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Black Company (Chronicle of the Black Company) (Mass Market Paperback)
I've been reading fantasy and science fiction for about 35 of my 45 years, and this series is one of the best. Terrific characters, both male and female, and lots of surprises. Glen Cook's writing style is clipped, realistic, and full of dry wit. Once you read the original Black Company, you'll wish you had already bought the rest of the series because you'll want to go straight to the next one. Trust me. You'll love it. Croaker rules.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A favorite series that I return to time and again., 8 Jan 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Black Company (Chronicle of the Black Company) (Mass Market Paperback)
I first read The Black Company back in 1989. I was impressed by the darkness within the tale. The "Taken" are completely evil and highly powerful. Their constant plots against one another adds to this bleak atmosphere. Even the good guys, the Black Company, teeter on the edge of dark and light. The characters are facinating. Soulcatcher, a particulary nasty member of the Taken, proves highly interesting. Goblin and One Eye, with their constant bickering, add a bit of humor to this dark tale. I have read this series numerous times and have enjoyed it thoroughly. Glen Cook has created a fantasy setting completely opposite what is commonly found. There are no Elves or romanticised heroes in this series. Instead, it is dark, gritty, and captures the attention.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice fast paced Action, 7 Feb 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Black Company (Chronicle of the Black Company) (Mass Market Paperback)
This is a book that does not waste pages and pages on giving you information which is'nt really necessary. This book gets straight to the point. The beginning is abit confusing, but as you read on, you understand it better. Its agreat story, which has created several characters that become extremely Interesting, Croater, Raven, Captain, Darling and more.
If you just want a book which is not too long, gets straight to the point, and is full of fast paced action, this is a must read.
If you liked this series I highly recommend Steven Erikson's - 'Gardens of the Moon' and 'Deadhouse Gates'.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 27 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Black Company (Chronicle of the Black Company)
The Black Company (Chronicle of the Black Company) by Glen Cook (Mass Market Paperback - 3 Feb 2007)
£5.04
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews