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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A second in the series exceeding the first., 11 Jun. 1998
By A Customer
This series is about the charactors, not the setting, or the conflict. Cook has created a cast of dozens, and made them individual enough that you could tell which charactor was doing what, just by when and how. These charactors are as real as one can expect in a fantasy novel. The good guys have their problems and hang-ups. Some of the supposed heros are just out and out unlikable. Some of the villians are compelling, all are interesting, and some are outright repulsive.
The story is told as seen by Croaker, the company doctor, in an unflowering honest chronicle of the companies actions in a war they aren't really happy about being a part of.
The only complaint I have about this series is the amount of time between new books. If this is a concern then read the first trilogy (The Black Company, Shadows Linger, and The White Rose) which are a complete set unto themselves. The Silver Spike, is a stand alone which occures just after the first three chronologicly.
Read them once to enjoy them. Read them a second time to appreciate them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An impressive evolution from the first book, 15 Jan. 2012
A. Whitehead "Werthead" (Colchester, Essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Six years after the mighty Battle at Charm, the Lady's Northern Empire has expanded further than ever before, carrying the Black Company into the distant lands of the east. However, orders come that will drive the Black Company on a march of thousands of miles to the far north-west, to the city of Juniper were mighty forces will clash as the result of the activities of one dirt-poor innkeeper.

Shadows Linger is the second novel in The Black Company sequence and comes as a bit of a surprise for readers expecting more of the same. The Black Company was a vast war epic, huge in scope. Shadows Linger feels a lot smaller in scale and more intimate, with the bulk of the action taking place in the single city of Juniper and focusing on the troubled life of the innkeeper Marron Shed. This division of focus - between Juniper and the Black Company as they cross an entire continent to get there - requires Cook to adjust his POV structure from the first volume. Whilst the bulk of the action continues to be relayed by Croaker, annalist and physician of the Black Company, we also get third-person POV chapters focusing on Shed. Later it is revealed that Shed recounted his adventures in detail to Croaker, explaining how this structure works.

Cook is at home with the small-scale story as he is with the larger, and he is able to inject real fear and tension into the mundane storyline of Shed's debt worries. As the story continues, we realise how Shed's apparently irrelevant concerns are related to the bigger picture, and once the Black Company reaches Juniper we snap back to a larger, more epic story with far-reaching consequences for the characters (several major characters don't make it to the end of this one).

The story itself unfolds relentlessly, with superb pacing as we flick between Shed's activities, Croaker's narration and the third-hand reports of the Black Company's march on Juniper. There are also hints of genuinely weird and fantastical ideas here, such as the bizarre landscape of the Plain of Fear (which features much more strongly in the third volume) and the black castles which grow from seeds (which Erikson clearly cribbed for the Azath Houses in the Malazan sequence). There's a feeling of constant invention as Cook deploys weird and wonderful ideas and combines them with the more traditional military fantasy shenanigans he has set in motion.

Complaints are few. The timeline feels a little shaky (in order for it to work, Croaker has to spend months and months in Juniper, which doesn't feel the case in the book) but this is not particularly a major problem. A few characters established as major players in the book seem to end their story arcs with damp squibs or rather off-hand deaths, but this may be part of Cook's intended effect - not everyone is a hero and some people do just expire unexpectedly in undramatic fashion. There's also much more of an obvious cliffhanger for the third book, but given that the third book has been out for decades and is combined with the first two in omnibus editions, that's not particularly problematic either.

Shadows Linger (****½) is more than a worthy follow-up to The Black Company. It's a fast-paced, addictive read which sees Cook not resting on his laurels and trying some new approaches and ideas, and succeeding well. The novel is available as part of the Chronicles of the Black Company omnibus in the UK and USA.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping tale of the endurance and allure of evil., 14 Nov. 1997
By A Customer
This second book of the Black Company series illustrates perfectly the brilliance of Cook's mercenary creation. He crafts an exciting, intense tale of men in conflict with the world, with destiny and with their own natures. All of the characters are involved to greater or lesser degrees with a struggle for power. Many of the characters don't even realize the role they are playing until everything comes together in a grand explosion of conflicting goals and deceits.
I believe Raven is one of the most intriguing characters in modern fantasy. A man with a natural tendency towards darkness, he attempts to redeem himself by serving the Light, and ends up falling into an even greater darkness. This is the theme of this entire series. What is Evil? And once you've served Evil, can you ever be free?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 26 May 1999
By A Customer
I began this series as a filler between Jordan episodes, but its really growing on me. The characters are great. The story would flow more smoothly with a map or two, but the complicated nature of the good vs evil struggle is very compelling. I highly recommend it. Its much better than Path of Daggers.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good but not great, 2 Aug. 2013
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It is a good but not great book. Very entertaining but it does not have the depth of the work of other authors such as Abercrombie or Scott Lynch to name a few. I will however continue to read the books of the black company.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Straight to the point book, 7 Feb. 2001
By A Customer
This is not a book which goes on and on, about people sitting around for ages, virtually not doing anything. Cook write only what needs to be written, though I think she needs to put abit more discribtion in the book. I really liked the story, and the twists. Though I must say that at the end what happens to one of my Favourite characters, was a bit weird.
If you don't get much time to read books, or just don't want to read a 800 page book. Buy this, each book is about 316 pages, and is full of action, horror, tragedies etc. Once you start it you finish it quick, and think WOW.
If you liked this series I highly recommend Steven Erikson's - 'Gardens of the Moon'.
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