Sunday, May 22, 2005

Fantasy Book Review: The Black Company

This book review will be short because I haven’t read "The Black Company" by Glen Cook in a long while. I expected to finish another book I was reading this week, but time and the tide screwed me over. So here I go.

This is the first book in a ten book series (actually a nine book series with a tenth related offshoot) about the trials and adventures of the mercenary outfit: The Black Company. Told from the perspective of Croaker (The Black Company’s doctor) through first person narration, this book packs quite an ensemble of unique and vivid characters between its pages. The writing style, for the tale being told, works so well you are sucked into the action and the story almost immediately.

It’s a world most fantasy readers will recognize as quasi- medieval, and Glen Cook brings it to life in a fresh "sarcastic" and interesting way as filtered to us by the protagonist Croaker. Characters like Goblin, Tom Tom, One-Eye, Elmo (not the tickle me version here), Raven and the captain give you an idea of the types of characters the Black Company employs. But these are just some of the regular "good guys" that populate Glen Cook’s world. There are also God like beings, like the Lady, the Limper and Soulcatcher, and they are not to be trifled with since they are packing a lot of strong magic, much more than the human average practitioner of the mystic arts of which the Black Company employs a few. The overall effect of the characters and world is stunning and different.

And that’s about it. Sorry I didn’t dwell on any specifics - that was mainly because 1) I don’t remember them all - I’m getting older, and 2) I don’t want to spoil anything for you either. The book is full of surprises and fun situations. So, if you like adventure fantasy with a humourous, sarcastic flavor, you will love The Black Company by Glen Cook. Highly recommended. The world of the Black Company is not a safe or happy place, but it’s intriguing and damn fun. But be warned - once you read this first book you may be collecting and reading the next nine. But that’s not such a bad thing either - the whole series is worth it.

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