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4.6 out of 5 stars
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4.6 out of 5 stars


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on 6 July 1999
I am always surprised when a new Glen Cook novel hits the stands. Outside of the success of his "Garrett" novels (which are a lovely blend of Raymond Chandler meets J.R.R.), he has to be the most overlooked writer in the fantasy genre. His "Dread Empire" series of novels (of which there were seven (7) published) combined political machinations with big-time wizardry, meddling immortals and believable ordinary characters (with ordinary flaws) into a grand mesh set on a world scale. He had planned at least two more novels in the series but poor sales forced its "retirement". Let us all hope that this does not happen with The Black Company. My greatest fear is that the latest book will be the last and the story will not yet be finished. Water Sleeps is another example of Glen's gritty storytelling at his best! Best of all, there is room for more novels with the hooks and unanswered questions that he leaves us with! The presence of Croaker and Lady (or lack of presence would better describe it) is the one thread that has bound the entire series together. Having them restored will allow Mr. Cook to tantilize us with further tales - should enough people purchase the novels - and also allow for the development of the newest wizard in the group - Murgen's son. Write on.
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on 6 June 1999
"Water Sleeps" is the Eigth Chronicle of the Black Company (the ninth book in the series if you count the Silver Spike). A Series known for its writing style as much as for its gritty "anti-hero" perspective on High Fantasy, Cook returns the reader to the characters and events following the treachery at the end of the Seventh Chronicle, "She is the Darkness".
The novel introduces us to the new Annalist, Sleepy, who took over the position in the Black Company when the three former Annalists were entombed in magical stasis beneath the plain of Glittering Stone. Fifteen years has passed since the "core" of the Black Company was Captured by Soulcatcher. The remnants of the Company remain in Taglios, in hiding, plotting their revenge against their enemies and planning the rescue of their comrades.
A few things are different in the novel. A new Annalist, once again, is introduced to the reader. Sleepy is revealed to us as a woman who prefers to keep her female gender unknown to most outsiders. But, despite her change in gender, she writes in the first person sarcastic style of all of Cook's Annalists.
There are a few differences, however. Sleepy is easily the smartest Annalist so far and free of self doubt. Sleepy also manages to avoid hubris. Th reader soon recognizes that while Sleepy is "only" an Annalist, it becomes increasingly clear that she is the de facto Captain and the mastermind of all the machinations of the Company.
One of the elements of the novel which make it different from earlier Black Company exploits is that under Sleepy's command - everything more or less goes as planned. Sleepy makes no mistakes. She is patient, balanced, quick-thinking and humble. Perhaps Sleepy is less honest than Croaker or Murgen and recounts to the reader only her successes and not her mistakes - but never has the Black Company had such an easy time of it. The plans of the Company go so well that we are left wondering why it took the Company fifteen years to execute its plans for revenge and rescue.
The novel answers far more questions than it poses and manages to set up the next novel quite well at the end, if perhaps a little too neatly.
If I have a complaint with the direction of the series, it is that it is more or less clear that Cook himself does not really know where he is going with any of this. Most writers have a *clue* as to what is going to happen and where the plot of the series is headed. I don't think that Cook does. It was clear that after Dreams of Steel the series lost direction and Cook has lost patience with most of his characters. In Water Sleeps, time has marched on and claims two or our most beloved members of the Black Company. They aren't killed off with quite the same disrespect as Mocker in the Dread Empire series was, but it comes closer than we would like with one of them.
Fans should take note: this series is winding down and either the ninth or perhaps the tenth Chronicle of the Black Company is likely to be the last.
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on 22 March 1999
SPOILER ahead:
Water Sleeps is easily one of the best books of the Black Company, as good as She is the Darkness. Problem is it takes place 15!! years after the last one. Sahra is in her late thirties. Tobo is a teenger. Sleepy (the annalist in this one) is a woman full and grown!! God's sake, she was a KID in "Darkness!!" Cook has done things like this before but the sudden time jump and the reorientation takes getting used to. This says nothing of the weird interpersonal relationship problems he's setting up for himself. Nothing about Croaker or Lady or the long-anticipated reunion between Murgen and Sahra (it really drives me nuts. In "Darkness" you think they're going to be reunited soon and not only does that NOT happen but you discover that it's a decade and a half LATER with Sahra aging and Murgen NOT!). Still, his style of writing is simply beautiful and will keep you up ALL night until you finish it. Here's to more Black Company as fast as possible and an end to what has been a most fascinating and engrossing story arc. By the way, about 90% of what's been confusing you since Dreams of Steel will be made clear in this book in Cook's unique style. This guy is money all the way . . . go take him to the bank! :)
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on 2 April 1999
NO SPOILERS - I don't want to ruin the read for anyone coming after me.
I don't usually take the time to do something like this, but Glen Cook has given me so much enjoyment over the years with The Black Company series of books that I thought I would recommend them to anyone who likes the "sword and sorcery" genre. (But I will warn you that some strong language is included in the read).
I have found that of all the various stories I've read, from Tolkien to Zelazny, Glen Cook's Black Company series is the one that I can read over and over and still get enjoyment from. He is original in his approach, thorough in the world he has made, and clever in his storytelling - quite possibly one of the most under-rated authors on the scene.
Why don't we hear more from, and about this guy ?!?!?!?
Well onto a short review of the book... "Water sleeps" but this story most decidedly does not. There were some rumblings before publication that this might be the last in the Black Company series, that it was going stale, the creative juices were running out, whatever... I don't think so!
Unless Cook just decides to walk away from it, there can be many, many more episodes to come based on the groundwork Mr. Cook lays in Water Sleeps. This is a transitional work in the series, not only an entertaing read. It lays the ground for a lot of changes, new character development and new storylines. We finally find out a lot about the world the Company inhabits, its roots, how it came to be, and where it has been headed these many years and episodes.
If you like the Black Company, you really must get this book and read it NOW!!!!
I've heard the title of the next installment is "Soldiers live, and wonder why".
Whatever the name may be...hey, Glen, BRING IT ON SOON!!!!!! You left me hanging on the cliff by my nails! Please don't tell me you have not started on the next one, or that it will be a year or more that I have to wait for your next installment. I can't wait for the story to continue!!!!!
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on 19 April 1999
Since long before Glen Cook began writing the Annals of the Black Company, I've been a fan of his work, but it wasn't until the inaugural book of the series that I truly came to know his genius. Now, 20+ years and thousands of miles later, it seems that the Company has worn itself away into an empty shadow of what it was.
Where do I start? I miss Croaker. He is by far the greatest narrative voice in the series. A physician with the eyes of a molester, the mind of a tactitian, and the soul of a poet, he alone has been able to touch upon the heart of what makes the Company what it is.
As the years pass, and other Annalists (it seems we have a new one every book) take up the pen, the Company sheds a little of the character which made it distinct. I understand and applaud Mr. Cook's decision not to halt the ravages of time -- as old, dear members of the Company fall, it is only natural that new characters be introduced. Yet none of these characters resonate with the power of old... off hand, I couldn't name a single one of them. As for the Old Guard? Mercy, Elmo, Tom-Tom, Goblin, One-Eye, Otto, Hagop, Silent. The names come so easily, because the characters who bore them meant something, given life and colour with the passion of Croaker's pen.
And now? Of the Brothers listed, only two remain. Meanwhile Murgen faces a wife whose youth and beauty faded while he slept. Croaker and the Lady retreat ever further into the shadows on the outskirts of the Company. And who is there to replace the "Old Crew"? People we know nothing about, people we care nothing about.
"They are the future." But what good is such a future when the fire inside has burned itself out. Like One-Eye, it seems that the heart of the Company is withering quietly into senility, leaving nothing of value behind.
All in all, I give it 3 stars. It was a well-written story, and thankfully tied up a number of loose ends. But the narrative voice was so empty, so ignorant of the Black Company's soul, that I was left with only sadness, that so fabulous a group of characters could come to this.
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on 6 June 1999
"Water Sleeps" is the Eigth Chronicle of the Black Company (the ninth book in the series if you count the Silver Spike). A Series known for its writing style as much as for its gritty "anti-hero" perspective on High Fantasy, Cook returns the reader to the characters and events following the treachery at the end of the Seventh Chronicle, "She is the Darkness".
The novel introduces us to the new Annalist, Sleepy, who took over the position in the Black Company when the three former Annalists were entombed in magical stasis beneath the plain of Glittering Stone. Fifteen years has passed since the "core" of the Black Company was Captured by Soulcatcher. The remnants of the Company remain in Taglios, in hiding, plotting their revenge against their enemies and planning the rescue of their comrades.
A few things are different in the novel. A new Annalist, once again, is introduced to the reader. Sleepy is revealed to us as a woman who prefers to keep her female gender unknown to most outsiders. But, despite her change in gender, she writes in the first person sarcastic style of all of Cook's Annalists.
There are a few differences, however. Sleepy is easily the smartest Annalist so far and free of self doubt. Sleepy also manages to avoid hubris. Th reader soon recognizes that while Sleepy is "only" an Annalist, it becomes increasingly clear that she is the de facto Captain and the mastermind of all the machinations of the Company.
One of the elements of the novel which make it different from earlier Black Company exploits is that under Sleepy's command - everything more or less goes as planned. Sleepy makes no mistakes. She is patient, balanced, quick-thinking and humble. Perhaps Sleepy is less honest than Croaker or Murgen and recounts to the reader only her successes and not her mistakes - but never has the Black Company had such an easy time of it. The plans of the Company go so well that we are left wondering why it took the Company fifteen years to execute its plans for revenge and rescue.
The novel answers far more questions than it poses and manages to set up the next novel quite well at the end, if perhaps a little too neatly.
If I have a complaint with the direction of the series, it is that it is more or less clear that Cook himself does not really know where he is going with any of this. Most writers have a *clue* as to what is going to happen and where the plot of the series is headed. I don't think that Cook does. It was clear that after Dreams of Steel the series lost direction and Cook has lost patience with most of his characters. In Water Sleeps, time has marched on and claims two or our most beloved memebers of the Black Company. They aren't killed off with quite the same disrespect as Mocker in the Dread Empire series was, but it comes closer than we would like with one of them.
Fans should take note: this series is winding down and either the ninth or perhaps the tenth Chronicle of the Black Company is likely to be the last.
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on 5 May 1999
It's difficult for me to write an objective review of 'Water Sleeps,' as I count myself as a true fan of Cook's works. So I won't really try. This is an extremely well-written addition to the Chronicals of the Black Company. Cook's writing talents are obvious as he once again slips into the mantle of a new Annalist, a new storyteller of the wayward mercenary band. Sleepy, now the de facto commander of the remnants of the Black Company, leads the reader thru the awakening of the band after 15 years underground. From guerilla warfare against the hated Company foe Soulcatcher to the rescue attempt of the captured, Cook's sardonic wit shines through Sleepy's recountings. Secrets are revealed, sacrifices are made, and Cook continues to let the Company evolve - brothers die, and new characters take their place. And of course, there are surprises like . . .. well, read the book. Those who have read the previous books will be able to jump in - those who are new should probably start at the beginning, with The Black Company. And I envy you for the reading that awaits you.
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on 10 May 1999
For 20 years I've read Glen's work, dating back to A Shadow Of All Night Falling, the first Dread Empire book (a series as good as this, but long out of print and expensive to find). The Black Company was the first series besides Moorcock's Elric to depict a less-than-pleasant set of heroes, and Cook took it to the extreme.
Yet, the Black Company are friends. Old friends, and their story has always been compelling, even when mired as if in the delta of the river Taglios sits astride. A good friend recently likened the new book to a river journey down the delta, with the tale wending to and fro, and he was dead-on.
Simply put, I'm glad Glen is back with the company, and I eagerly await "Soldiers Live (And Wonder Why," the next chapter of the annals.
Now if only we can get him to write a new Dread Empire...Bragi's been away too long.
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on 5 April 1999
This book really cheered me up! I ADORED the first three books of the Black Co. and LIKED the next several then got kind of bored. This one is great, and saves the entire series....And leaves the series wide-open for more additions.
Old minor characters move up and take command. Old characters are gently and honorably 'retired'. All the questions are answered ... and there were many...at least to me ... from the preceding 'Glittering Stones' series. A fine job... Really looking forward to the next 'series'.
If you liked the series so far, you will LOVE this one.
rora1@bellsouth.net (formerly irond)
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on 24 June 1999
I readily absorbed the huge dose of answered questions and history of the Realm.
Spoilers ahead... My dissapointments were the fact that Croaker and Lady had relatively nothing to do with the book at all, except for being there stuck on the plain, white crow notwithstanding.
I gave four stars only because I felt let down by the ending, as it related to Lady and Croaker, who after all were the main reasons anyone travelled up the plain anyway, in my oh so humble opinion.
After putting this book down I felt like I won Lotto, but my dad who picked the numbers for me died.
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