The Black Company by Glen Cook

    Glen Cook’s dark military fantasy series, The Black Company, has been on my radar for a little while and I decided to give the first book in the series, also titled The Black Company, a go. It isn’t too large of a book making for a quick read so I wasn’t daunted that it is a nine book series. The story follows the work of The Black Company, a prolific and enduring mercenary band, as it tries to survive and keep itself together though the affairs of the world. The narrative is told through the eyes of Croaker, a battlefield surgeon and annalist of The Black Company.

Affiliate links are provided for your convenience.

    There was only one plot related aspect of the book that I felt was a little off. At one point, The Black Company is hired for one side in a civil war. However, the rebelling forces are so numerous and powerful it becomes a little unclear why they hadn’t been able to either do this at an earlier time and why they don’t just completely eliminate most of the forces that oppose them immediately. The only other quirk in the book that didn’t bother me too much personally but that I could see annoying other readers is that there are a ton of references to “giggling” and laughing fits, particularly between the wizards of The Black Company. It just seems a little weird sometimes because the setting is a bunch of grizzled warrior veterans and then you have these even older wizards just playing pranks and “giggling.” That said, I thought most of those scenes were at least a little humorous and I actually thought it fit with the particular battle wizards involved to be honest.
    I enjoyed most of the characterization going on in The Black Company. I particularly liked Croaker’s perspective of having to use his brain and his brawn as well as his unique relationship with the men as a physician, annalist, and comrade. The Black Company includes a diverse array of men with different qualities and attributes that blend together well, especially in the scenes where they are just trying to pass the time by playing cards and such. I also appreciated how the fantasy elements of the story are reigned in quite a bit and even though they are present at most times, the sorcery and supernatural meshes with the gritty reality of the story and doesn’t take over the show. Lastly, I like how there are many loose ends in the story and not everything is explained right away or explained at all. There are many more books in the series and they might explain some things, but the mysterious and dark atmosphere works quite well and I feel that this was intentional and and a good decision.
     Overall I really enjoyed The Black Company, especially the characters involved in the story. I will definitely be continuing the series and I look forward to reading Shadows Linger, the second book in the series.
     4 out of 5 stars.