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Glen Cooks The Black Company series

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I started to read the first book two years ago or something like that and had to put it down. I did not read much of it but to me it really did not make sense and I wanted to move on to other stuff. All I hear on the series are positives (not that I look for it much just when someone mentions it on these forums or other forums). Should I pick it up and try it again because after all I only got through like like 30-40 pages if that.

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I loved the books, but I feel it might be an acquired taste. There is a certain...I don't know, minimalism or maybe frankness to the writing that engrosses me. I feel like so much of the books are personal accounts of the Black Company, and then I remember one line about the "manhood of a continent lay dead" and it hits you as to the scale of the battles.

I was in a mood for dark fantasy at the time, and it hit the spot.

Edited by sciborg2

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I'm reading the omnibus edition right now, and I'm almost finished. They're a pretty fast read, and, due to the writing style, not something that you can skim through and still get what's going on. The plot's interesting, and as a reviewer once put it, it's "fantasy told from the bottom up". Croaker (the main character), being a physician, doesn't get all the action details down, and things that would take whole books in something like Wheel of Time (such as all the traveling) are told in a paragraph or so. The second and third books do some alternating between first and third person that could be awkward at first. But overall, once you get used to the war-journal style, it's very enjoyable and I think you should give them a try.

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The Black Company is an awesome series, but it's probably not for everyone. The early trilogy as mentioned is somewhat minimalist, though it gets more expansive in the later books. The style of the books being form the annalists perspective mainly could put you off as well I suppose, but it's great once you get into it. Goblin and One Eye are FTW.

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Yes you should read it. Can gritty fantasy be fun? If you think so, then you would probably like this series. The switch between first and third person shouldnt bother most, think of it as a journal interlude that many authors are fond of, only in reverse, with the journal being the main mover of the story.

And with the omnibuses out, it is a fairly cheap series to buy in chunks, making the 8 books a little less imposing.

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I read the first omnibus but lost interest by the end of it. It may have been groundbreaking in its time, but it's far too generic now.

There is also something that bothers me about the EVIL!!! Lady.

You are constantly told how EVIL!!! she is, but I can't remember a single EVIL!! action. Eventually you are also told that the original rebels and most of her generals are controlled by the Dominator and yet she is still considered EVIL!!!!. Bah I really don't understand it.

Edited by gladius

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I read the first omnibus but lost interest by the end of it. It may have been groundbreaking in its time, but it's far too generic now.

There is also something that bothers me about the EVIL!!! Lady.

You are constantly told how EVIL!!! she is, but I can't remember a single EVIL!! action. Eventually you are also told that the original rebels and most of her generals are controlled by the Dominator and yet she is still considered EVIL!!!!. Bah I really don't understand it.

Croaker adresses this in The White Rose, thinking how it's all an act on the Lady's part and how she's not nearly as bad as her husband. But with generals like Limper, I'm not surprised people would think of her as evil.

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I enjoyed the first trilogy. It's got a gritty, amoral, minimalist charm.

The subsequent books get worse and worse with each installment and the story just goes round in pointless directions and retcons.

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I am currently reading this series and liking it a lot. However I just started the 3rd book, The White Rose and there is something that has gotten me pretty confused though...

For the longest time, Raven has been in possession of Whisper's papers that contain some of the secret identities of the Taken and the Lady and Croaker has been attempting to catch up with him and find them up until the end of book 2. However, as soon as the 3rd book begins, Croaker suddenly has them and has had them for 6 years. Did I miss something or is this explained later?

Edited by cutters10c

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I really enjoyed the Black Company series, although I felt the original trilogy was the strongest. What about it didn't make sense to you? I don't remember anything being particularly unclear, especially early.

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Echoing some of the other posters here: the first trilogy is good fun. It takes awhile to catch on to the action because of the minimalist prose and Croakers unique POV, and I probably enjoyed them much better the second time through because I was familiar with all of the characters by then.

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I read the first omnibus but lost interest by the end of it. It may have been groundbreaking in its time, but it's far too generic now.

There is also something that bothers me about the EVIL!!! Lady.

You are constantly told how EVIL!!! she is, but I can't remember a single EVIL!! action. Eventually you are also told that the original rebels and most of her generals are controlled by the Dominator and yet she is still considered EVIL!!!!. Bah I really don't understand it.

While her evilness was overrated we learned, she certainly was evil. She loosed generals like the limper on the world. She controlled here taken by force.

She unleashed some kind of biological warfare through the Howler.

Edited by SkynJay

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Hmm - I don't really remember any retconning.

Lady? Yeah, she's pretty damn evil; she just doesn't SEEM evil in person, which is kind of her plan. It makes her easy to underestimate, but, as you see her later, she's always ruthless.

It's also a bit of a theme with the books, that evil isn't just black and white, in that her enemies are as bad as she is in many ways, but Croaker also realizes that she does keep a certain amount of peace in her empire. The more you see of her history, tho...

Cutters - Raven's story gets complicated, the Silver Spike and White Rose fill in more, but... Craoker and Co also have a trove of documents they grabbed in the first book, Raven's serve as sort of teh key to figuring out what they actually have.

It does seem to bog down with the last few books (until the last one, which goes almost too quickly), but, part of that is clearly due to a major plot point, which is a huge spoiler.

And, yeah, Goblin, One-Eye, Soulcatcher, and...Toadkiller Dog! whoot.

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The first book in the first trilogy was easy reading and fun, from Croaker's point of view. I could never really get into the story after that (I ended up skipping to the end of the trilogy to see how the whole thing played out).

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I think it's a terrific series, one of the best in modern fantasy. I was drawn in by the characters which feel both larger-than-life, but also very human and real.

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I think it's a terrific series, one of the best in modern fantasy. I was drawn in by the characters which feel both larger-than-life, but also very human and real.

The series just isn't as good when it's not Croaker's voice. Murgen as the narrator just isn't as good, and I thought "The Books of the South" dragged. The Glittering Stone omnibus (the last 3-4) were better. I didn't like Water Sleeps at first, but it grew on me. And I think Soldiers Live was excellent, like a return to the first trilogy.

The ending of that book was probably perfect, both the infighting between the two girls, and Croaker's fate and thoughts.

Edited by Former Lord of Winterfell

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I started to read the first book two years ago or something like that and had to put it down. I did not read much of it but to me it really did not make sense and I wanted to move on to other stuff. All I hear on the series are positives (not that I look for it much just when someone mentions it on these forums or other forums). Should I pick it up and try it again because after all I only got through like like 30-40 pages if that.

To the OP specifically: the start of the first book is a little confusing, I remember, because you're dropped in medias res into the Black Company doing one job, and then they're whisked away by boat to start another, which is really the beginning of the story proper of the first trilogy. So I'd suggest reading to a few chapters beyond that boat voyage, to see if it starts making more sense to you.

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OK now I'm getting confused and I have a giant statue of Glen Cook I make offerings to.

There's 9 books and 1 stand alone.

The Chronicles of The Black Company is the first Trilogy

The Books of the South are two books plus the kind of stand alone Silver Spike

Then there's 2 omnibuses for The Glittering Stone, with 2 books each.

Also, if you don;t like Glen Cook, you go to hell and wolves eat you :P

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