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Glen Cooks The Black Company series

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I'm really partial to the end of Soldiers Live too. Can't recall a fantasy series that had such an appropriate ending other than the "well, I'm back" at the end of Lord of the Rings. I thought some of the Books of the South dragged a bit -- Murgen as narrator lacks Croaker's personality.

I bogged down in them and eventually stopped reading. So many people have said Soldiers Live is worth reading though, I need to get back on this series.

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I bogged down in them and eventually stopped reading. So many people have said Soldiers Live is worth reading though, I need to get back on this series.

Skip the Books of the South, and jump to the Glittering Stone. I really liked Water Sleeps.

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The first two books of the Glittering Stone are rough to get through though, especially that first one.

I would say the best books in the series are:

Shadows Linger: I love the Juniper storyline. This is the second book in the series and it is quite possibly the best.

The Silver Spike: Damn good characters. Everyone should read this right after the White Rose. Old Man Fish is my hero. Read this right after The White Rose for maximum ass kicking.

Soldiers Live: What a way to end the series (if it is indeed done), felt very good. So right.

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Do they need to be read in order or can you skip from The Books of the North to The Silver Spike and Soldiers Live?

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You need to read the original trilogy for The Silver Spike to make any sense.

It's been a while and I read them all in one go, but I think you'd have to at least Start with Bleak Seasons, other wise Soldier's Live would make no sense. I seem to be alone in having Water Sleeps as my least favorite of them all.

Oh, and it's not over. Cook has stated he plans to write two more, a prequel and final novel set sometime after Soldier's Live. I think he's writing the prequel right now.

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I would say at least read the original trilogy and the Silver Spike. You will know by that point if this series is for you or not.

Then resume with the Books of the South, than the first two Books of the Glittering Stone.

I actually liked the two books of the South better than the Books of the Glittering Stone.

The last two books of the Glittering Stone: Water Sleeps and Soldiers Live are far superior. Water Sleeps is ok, but Soldiers Live is head and shoulders above everything since Shadows Linger and the Silver Spike.

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I'm grateful for this thread. It prompted me to buy the first Omnibus. I found Book 1 quite hard going, but Book 2 is superb.

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Oh, and it's not over. Cook has stated he plans to write two more, a prequel and final novel set sometime after Soldier's Live. I think he's writing the prequel right now.

Didn't he publish a Black Company short story set between The Black Company and Shadows Linger a few years back? Tides something?

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I'm grateful for this thread. It prompted me to buy the first Omnibus. I found Book 1 quite hard going, but Book 2 is superb.

That's awesome and I'm glad you bought the Omnibus. I bought all of the Omnibus editions on the Google Play store in Ebook format. They were FAR less expensive than buying the individual Ebooks. There are four omnibuses:

Chronicles of the Black Company: The Black Company, Shadows Linger, The White Rose

The Books of the South: Shadow Games, Dreams of Steel, Silver Spike (though you should read Silver Spike right after the White Rose It wraps up that story line far better)

The Return of the Black Company: Bleak Seasons, She is the Darkness

The Many Deaths of the Black Company; Water Sleeps, Soldiers Live

Didn't he publish a Black Company short story set between The Black Company and Shadows Linger a few years back? Tides something?

There's a few. One in Tales of Dark Fantasy 2, one in Fearsome Journeys, and one in, oh crap, Swords and Dark Magic?

Glad that you picked it up and are enjoying it. Keep reading if you are enjoying it. Read the White Rose, then read the Silver Spike. Some very good stuff there. The Silver Spike may be the best book in the series, but its close.

Yeah all of the short stories he has published since Soldiers Live take place between the first and second book of the series (The Black Company and Shadows Linger). Cook has said these short stories will be expanded upon as the next Black Company novel set between the first two books. It will be called A Pitiless Rain.

A final book that takes place after Soldiers Live is to be called Port of Shadows.

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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.

I'm still 100 pages away from finishing the first trilogy, so may have to revise my opinion (and perhaps revise it again when I read future books). IMO, the Lady is cruel, ruthless, and selfish, and she's certainly committed a good deal of evil

(such as obliterating Juniper, and the rather disgusting ritual of Taking which she performs on Whisper

. But, we also learn that in some respects her rule is quite benign, and she's also working to save humanity from something that's much worse than she is. She's probably what Galadriel would be like had she claimed the One Ring, and gone to war with Sauron.

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The Lady is a very interesting character. It was smart for Cook to kind of keep her off limits so to speak for the first few books, then slowly build her into an actual character.

Yeah she is a true queen of darkness though.

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The Lady is a very interesting character. It was smart for Cook to kind of keep her off limits so to speak for the first few books, then slowly build her into an actual character.

Yeah she is a true queen of darkness though.

Just finished. I think the Lady is a great character. Ruthless, cruel, and selfish, but enormously brave, and prepared to sacrifice herself to destroy a terrible threat to humanity. I think she was in love with Croaker, from the moment she met him. And, he with her.

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Awesome, be sure to read the Silver Spike next and check in with your thoughts. I think you'll like it.

I read the second omnibus, and enjoyed it. In contrast to most people who've commented, I liked the Silver Spike least of the three. Perhaps that is due, as Werthead said, to its depressing conclusion, and due to a pretty loathsome protagonist getting away with his crimes.

For all of Croaker's moralising, I don't think that, ethically speaking, there's much to choose between him and (the) Lady. Neither character is a monster, but they're

both pretty ruthless, when necessary.

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For all of Croaker's moralising, I don't think that, ethically speaking, there's much to choose between him and (the) Lady. Neither character is a monster, but they're

both pretty ruthless, when necessary.

Croaker doesn't desire power over others.

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Yeah I think one of Lady's biggest motivations is the fact that if any other "wins" she is subjected to the same as she subjects others to.

Same as her husband, if her husband is reborn (or whatever) she is back to being his thrall.

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I read the second omnibus, and enjoyed it. In contrast to most people who've commented, I liked the Silver Spike least of the three. Perhaps that is due, as Werthead said, to its depressing conclusion, and due to a pretty loathsome protagonist getting away with his crimes.

For all of Croaker's moralising, I don't think that, ethically speaking, there's much to choose between him and (the) Lady. Neither character is a monster, but they're

both pretty ruthless, when necessary.

Yeah I kind of grew attached to Smed's though throughout the book. I started out being revolted by him due to his behavior at the start, but the jerk grew on me I guess.

What did you think of Old Man Fish?

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Yeah I kind of grew attached to Smed's though throughout the book. I started out being revolted by him due to his behavior at the start, but the jerk grew on me I guess.

What did you think of Old Man Fish?

Old Man Fish was impressive. Smeds was never someone I warmed to.

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I've finally finished reading these. They are indeed very different from the classical, Tolkien-based fantasy. I think that for the most part, they work well, although the protagonist turnover makes the later books a bit depressing. With maybe one or two exceptions, Cook doesn't give any of the ordinary mortals plot armor -- they die in all kinds of ways (ranging from heroic to ordinary to stupid) and there is a a lot of dying -- the casualty rates on both sides of most conflicts are extremely high even among characters that have names and personalities. It's perhaps the most realistic fantasy work on war that I have read, but this makes it hard to get attached to characters.



I liked the original trilogy best. The ending of The White Rose is awesome:


I loved Croaker's final "There ain't going to be no more killing." stand. Yes, he's only doing it because he's in love with her, but it's still the antithesis of the ruthless way that world usually operates.



Also, the earlier part where Goblin figures out the identity of Croaker's lady friend is hilarious.


The Silver Spike would be less cynical if Smeds was not introduced with the "music lessons", in which case his character (once developed) would not be much worse than many of the others in the books. As it stands, his part of the story leaves a pretty sour taste, although the rest of it is not bad (given the usual 50%+ casualty rates on all sides).



The other Books of the South are OK. I like that the love story at the heart of the series finally comes out into the open, but they also tend to end with cliffhangers which take a long time to get resolved.



The Glittering Stone books are a mixed bag. Bleak Seasons is really, really depressing (for a while there I was questioning the sanity of the narrator). It gets slightly better when


Murgen catches a glimpse of Sahra in the swampland and the reader can guess that she is alive. However, it's not

that much better since it implies a rather monstrous betrayal and he doesn't figure it out for a while.


The next two are better and the last one (Soldiers Live) is quite good. If we ignore the usual casualty rate, the ending is almost positive.


There are a lot of loose strings, but Croaker gets a fate he is almost perfectly suited to, Lady also gets more or less what she wants and so do the remaining younger characters.


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