Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Black Company... done.

Well, I mentioned earlier that I was reading through the later Black Company books; in fact, I read all ten of the books in order (see list below.) That's a lot of reading. Despite that, I don’t feel like I read too much; in fact, in many ways the whole deal with the Black Company books is that they don't really fill out the setting, the characters or even the plot. Stuff moves quickly and is often poorly described. Although this is part of its charm to its fans, I still can't say that I'm totally sold on the voice. In fact, in the later books, I think it was as much a disservice as a service---the impact of what should have been highly emotional, dramatic moments was deliberately muted. To me, that's a case of the concern for voice going all out of proportion to what it should be. The voice worked well in the first three books, as presenting a world-weary, low-brow soldier's point of view. I think it worked more poorly as the characters, plotlines and situations evolved and matured.

Still; I do like the plotlines a lot. I do like the thematic elements. A lot. I mentioned that in the last post I made on the Black Company books, but the idea of these wild and crazy (yet extremely rare) sorcerers being either 1) corrupted by power, or 2) corrupted by comletely justified paranoia is just too cool for words. I've always been a fan of the idea that in the ancient past people came from other worlds (my own settings often feature such things; it's how I justify to my overly scientifically minded mind how fantasy settings can be a mixture of earthlike and unearthly flora and fauna.) I recommend the books whole-heartedly, with only the caveat that they're written in a very different voice than most fantasy fans (or most fiction fans in general, with some exceptions) are used to reading in. This voice is at times a strength and at others a significant weakness. Also, the hinted at yet untold stories implicit in the text are both tantalizingly interesting, and extremely frustrating at the same time. It's almost as if Cook went out of his way to hint at stories and then not tell them for no reason other than to tease us.

Anyway, here's the complete list of all the books, in the order I read them. As mentioned in an earlier post, The Silver Spike was put into the omnibus edition in an order that I wouldn't have thought to have used, but that's the order I ended up reading them in anyway.

1. The Black Company

2. Shadows Linger

3. The White Rose

4. Shadow Games

5. Dreams of Steel

6. The Silver Spike

7. Bleak Seasons

8. She Is The Darkness

9. Water Sleeps

10. Soldiers Live

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