4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 29 December 1998
I'm sorry,I just can't agree with the majority of the reviewers below. What started out as a brilliantly original series is now about as welcome as a Jew in Baghdad. I wish I had the time to review the rest of the series but I'll give my ratings here if I may before I say specifically why this book is not as good as the rest. The Black Company gets 4 stars, Shadows Linger 5 Stars (who says the middle books of trilogies are boring?), White Rose 4 stars, Silver Spike 3 stars, Shadow Games 3 stars, Dreams of Steel 3 stars and Bleak Seasons 2 stars. There was a five year break between Dreams of Steel and Bleak Seasons and it shows in the quality. I think the author was wondering where to go with the series, perhaps bored with writing it and lost whatever "spark" that drove the story. Notice with the change of narrator we not only get a change in dialogue from what is typically English English to American English (which appears to have been missed by American readers who thought the dialogue American all along), we get a dramatic switch from what was a creditable impression of a fantasy India to a terribly bad impression of the Vietnam war. Witness the gratuitous appearance of a whole load of fantasy Vietnamesae that were never even mentioned before, shoehorned in without thought so their appearance jars. Witness also the troops discussing "fragging" officers , with what ? - the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch perhaps. Witness nobody ever uses a bow or a sword any more instead ersatz fantasy firearms. Come on Mr Author credit us with some discernment. If I wanted to read a Vietnam war book I'd read Dispatches. Hell, I have read Dispatches. Don't let your influences show so much, if you were bored with the damn thing end it, if you want to write a Vietnam war story write one but an ongoing fantasy series is not the time to do it. Grief, imagine Tolkien with Panzers and you know what I feel like. My advice to new readers, read the first trilogy and Silver Spike for one of the best fantasy series ever. The weakest of mages is portrayed in such a way to make Gandalf look like an apprentice and the villains are a roleplaying gamemasters dream and make Sauron look like a kid with a catapult. The rest of the series is lame. Sorry.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 22 April 2001
This was much better than 'Bleak Seasons', though From all the books, I preferred where Croaker is the main focus and from his point of View. Murgen tends to be flying around alot. But the story is getting on fine, the action is well, though Glen cook still needs to improve describing some of the stuff in more detail. I would have probably given this book 4 stars, but since I just finished read 'Soldiers Live' sataying up most of the night because of I feel generous. The first few books of The Glittering Stone may not be as good as the previous but wait till Soldiers Live, that is just superb. I really love the characters in these series, Croaker, Lady, One-eye, Goblin and some others. But those four are the core to the books for me.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 June 1998
I'll give this book five stars or a 10 or a blue ribbon or best of breed, whatever works to keep them coming. 470 pages and I got through it in 3 days,(part time,) tearing off chunks and hardly chewing them as I rushed through.
It's unimaginable that this book could be read and truly enjoyed without having read previous "Black Company" books, but anything is possible. However, if you haven't read the early books, you're in for some good reading.
The duty of the Annalist for this war-torn and again war-torn group of mercenary soldiers keeps changing hands, and each time, I am disappointed for a few pages, wishing Croaker was back at it, or Lady, or even One-eye. But now it's Murgen. (and maybe next, Sleepy.) Having accumulated a coat of grime and stink and the ache of fresh wounds and strains compounding old vicarious hurts, I settle in for more terror and humor and mystification until it is finished. As finished as it ever gets, and I return to reality, having had enough for a while.
This is good writing. These people become friends and family and when they are gone, mourned, while someone new joins up and fills the space and becomes blood. I have absolutely no desire for this series to end. What is it about some of us that would have it this way? No closure, please. The beautiful, evil and crazy sorcerer sister- whoops! I almost gave it away. Join me, other Black Company addicts. Feast, then return later to pick up what was rushed through, chew it well and wait. There will be another. Like darkness, it always comes.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 July 1998
I like the others here have read and reread the first three volumes of the Black Company. I had originally been loaned the set of three by a friend. Being totally enthralled by them, I tried to buy them and could not - out of print. Determined, I wrote Tor and asked if they would relay a note to Mr. Cook. They did and Mr. Cook answered with a very warm letter and informed me he had a few hard-cover books left that had all three of the original series in one book. I ordered TWO from him, one to loan and one to keep.
I still think it is one of the finest fantasy series ever written. Naturally I have purchased all the others as they came out and am just re-reading 'She is the Darkness' for the second time. I agree with the 'reader from LA' that the 'Ten Who Were Taken' are much better villains..and I also miss Croaker as the protagonist. Murgen is only OK in his first try and slightly better in his second. In my letter to Mr. Cook, I also suggested that Croaker should accidentally fall into a 'fountain of youth' of some sort, so he could maintain his relationship with Lady satisfactorily.
on 8 January 1998
Glen Cook is consistently one of the best writers I have ever encountered. He is able to create believable, human characters, whom you either love, or love to hate. I found his Black Company series unique, in that it is very dark, and yet is able to capture that spark of hope that exists within all of us. With She is The Darkness, I found him returning to the style or the first series, the books of the North. I found this a welcome change from the rest of the series, including this book's predecessor, Bleak Seasons. I enjoy the way he is able to make all the pertinant characters come alive, differently than he did when Croaker was annalist. Murgen's speech and style seem very real, and lend immediacy to the book. The only problems I have with it are how far some of his characters have changed since their conception. I liked Croaker far more when he was a hopeless romantic, than the very definition of paranoid that he is now, but i can see Cook's reasoning for the change. I'd have to say what is most gripping about this book is the plot, and the way that Cook keeps you guessing right up to the end and beyond. Never have I been so clueless as to what is happening, and the ending is definitely a surprise, leaving you yearning for more. All in all, I like the way it seems the series is taking. A very good read.
on 3 September 1997
The Black Company books have to be one of the best fantasy series' currently available. The latest installation is not a disappointment (although the ending made me grind my teeth, since I'm sure the next book won't be out for some time). I feel obligated to say that it's apparent that Kirkus Reviews read only selected pages of this book - and had a hard time understanding the intrigue - and if you read their review really hard it'll ruin a wee surprise. As far as where the Company's food comes from...that's actually mentioned multiple times, so Kirkus skipped a few hundred pages. Cook pays attention to little things like logistics.. he is writing about a merc company, and it wouldn't be realistic without discussing things like starving, foraging, ditch digging, stinking, blood, death, more stinking, more starving... But it's not all dreary death and destruction! Cook's subtle wit brings relief from Murgen's house of pain and the hell of the Shadowlands. If you read the earlier books, I'd suggest you go back and read them again.. and if you haven't read any of them.. buy them all today and read them this weekend! It's worth the lack of sleep and human contact. =)
on 29 October 1997
Cook continues his enjoyable excursions into the minds and secrets of mercenaries (and, especially, Murgens)and wizards with this latest installment in the Black Company series. He continues his masterful use of an "implied description" style of writing, forcing his readers into that enjoyable state of using the imagination to fully grasp what is happening in his world (almost the polar opposite of Tolkien's "ultra-descriptive" style, yet he acheives, through his minimalism, almost the same fullness and richness of place and event, even if, or perhaps, because, we never have a real sense of the history or geography of his "middle eart"). All characters by now quite comfortable by their long familiarity, he catches the reader in a web of paranoia that pulls them through 380+ wonderful pages of conspiracy and counter-conspiracy that would make the esteemed Mr. Carter (nee "X-Files") squirm with delight! The only "downer" here comes from the implied wait for more answers (and,likely, questions) in the next book!
on 29 July 1998
While the Black Company is one of the truly great sagas in fantasy, I consider it VERY important that the books be read in order..otherwise they wouldn't make much sense, particularly the last two. But then, neither would Jordan's 'Wheel of Time', nor would the Eddings series either. The Black Company is different from all other series in it's theme and the way the main characters stay the SAME. (Normal series is .. Peasant in fields becomes General, Admiral, King, Most powerful sorceror, etc. etc. and saves the world from the Dark Guy). The Black Company is DIFFERENT and (for fantasy) much more believable and interesting. They are mercenary soldiers and the entire series is an on-going, slug it out, rough and tough military campaign, with the company constantly hindered by sorcerors who are much too powerful for the company to combat directly and have to be defeated by the 'lie, cheat, steal, deceive' method.
on 9 July 1998
In early Europe it was common for mercenary bands to be unable to trust their employers. In this book, no trust is possible. Everyone has an agenda that is mutually exclusive. What is even worse, there are only shades of black. The mercenaries are not good people. The employers are moderately bad people. The enemies the Black Company have been hired to fight are crazy and bad. The allies are all either crazy, evil, or both. Heaped on top of that, Croaker, the Captain, cannot draw on his subordinates for planning purposes, because there are agents of the enemy (crows) everywhere plus the subordinates may defect. This leads to a level of paranoia I have not seen before. How do you plan when all around you are suspect? Cook has done an excellent job of capturing the feel of men at war.
on 27 September 1997
Apparently it's been five years since the last Black Company novel. I had no idea; time slips away so fast these days. I have to say that I think Mr. Cook needed the break from Croaker and the gang. I was fairly disappointed by the first book of the Glittering Stone. Maybe it would have been acceptable from a novice author, but I didn't feel it contributed a great deal to the Black Company saga.
In "She Is the Darkness", though, Glen Cook has picked the pace back up. The book is a good length, the plot and writing are closer to classic Black Company, and the choice of Murgen as Annalist reads a lot better than in the last book. And like any of the good Black Company novels, this one leaves you awestruck, open-mouthed, and crying for the next one.