Here's a very interesting twist to the typical fantasy story.
What if the Lord of The Rings had been told from the BAD GUYS perspective, say, from Mordor's elite guard?
They'd tell a story of thirteen rebels sent from different kingdoms bent on destroying Lord Sauron's passion to bring order to the chaos of the world. This rebel fellowship carries an ultimate doom with them, a ring once held by their glorious leader to keep peace between the races. They now carry it to its ultimate destruction, which will not only destroy that one last hope for unity, but also to destroy their king, who will die when the ring is consumed in the fires of Mount Doom! The fellowship must be stopped from completing their master plan to disrupt the world and kill their lord!
Guess it's all about perspective.
Glen Cook has created such a series, although not tied to Tolkien's work. A similar situation, yet a different world, using different literary vehicles and tools to accomplish the task.
You'll come to know Croaker, chief physician and historian for the Black Company, and many others in the group, along with a dark queen who holds their world in sway. The company is pressed into various quests, deeds, and services for her majesty, and they begin to question the ethics and intent brought on by the influence of her rule.
Sound interesting? It definitely is, and I've enjoyed Cook's twist on the typical.
Descriptive, rich and story-driven, this is a pleasure to the ears of fantasy lovers everywhere. It's mature, thoughtful, dark and entertaining. Cook suspends reality and draws you in, and THAT, my Audible listener, makes for a good audiobook.
I liked this audiobook so much, that I now own the entire series (ten audiobooks to date, I believe).
And the rest are good listening, as is this first in the series.
Who'd have thought I'd saddle up with the BAD guys? And LIKED it?
I love to read. I also love to write. I'm a harsh critic and very, very, very rarely give five star reviews to anything. Three stars for me is an average representation of literature and not a bad review by any stretch.
I don't know if "better" is the right word. But it certainly brought a certain attitude to the writing and the main character that fit oh so well.
There is no book that compares directly to The Black Company. It is just that unique in the way it is told.
There are just too many good scenes to pick only one. Sorry, but that's just the truth. Instead of scenes, I'll just give some of my favorite lines:
“A chimp-sized, four-armed bundle of ugly exploded from beneath our table.”
“Fate is a fickle ***** who dotes on irony.”
“He had stumbled over a rainbow pot of power.”
“I had a mental picture of a dark-haired, ageless beauty with a sexual presence that hit mere mortals with the impact of a mace.”
“But, honestly, he was not nice people that day.”
A little long for that unless you have a whole day to kill. No, not really, even as good as this book is, the over the topness of it requires downtime to digest what has been said.
Still a classic. It's in my top 20 Fiction books of all time.
I will still enjoy reading it, but the audio edition is easier, more accessable (greatly enjoy it while driving and on flights)
It brings a level of realness to Fantasy I would not have expected.
Mark Vietor adds a husky, dark aspect to the delivery that I easily accept as the voice of Croaker and blends in well with the gritty style of the Black Company itself. Very listenable.
Laughed many a time.
Thank you for bringing this product to market!
At first you may not think much but as it goes on each book in the series gets better. The end in the last book was not expected but very good.
If you like swords,wizards,magic, and a good story line you won't be disapointed. I read the books years ago and was always hoping someone would do an audio version. Marc Vietor did a excellent read and I think caught the book and characters flavor nicely.
Glen Cook's *Chronicles of The Black Company* are, bar Tolkien, some of the finest works of fantasy ever written. With exceptional atmosphere, a fascinating and tangled plot line, a bleak but abundant, trenchant, wit and an anti-hero narrator who I can relate too all to well... these books, especially the first three (particularly 1&2) are something special.
Sadly the narrator was, IMO, wrong for these books. He never seemed to get the feel for Croaker's voice, at least as I hear it in MY head. He brings plenty of drama and feeling to his readings, and that is the problem. Croaker, and his cohorts, call for a certain laconic quality this reader didn't seen to feel in the text. Maybe that's just my feel for the books (I've read them 20x, if that matters, and I am career Army Infantry, which also probably influences my ideas, for good and ill.) Veitor's Croaker is certainly hearfelt. It's just that really, most of the time, Croaker doesn't DO heartfelt, and since he's the predominant voice, it doesn't ring right. IMCO Real shame-- these are fantastic novels.
There are numerous glowing reviews of this book, but I had a hard time finding positives about it. Full disclosure, I really tried but I could only make it 1/2 way through the book. My main issues are 1. Characters are just thrown into the mix - no description, examination, or reason why I should care about them 2. The story seemingly skips around - in one sentence the company is sailing toward a city, and the next they arrived and in the middle of a battle. 3. I didn't like the overall writing style-the final straw for me was having to listen to a 15 minute description of a card game - being played by characters that were not described even remotely as well.
“I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia."
I enjoyed this story of imperfect characters struggling to find meaning, in a dark, and often times, savage and merciless world, through their brotherly bond shaped by their union: The Black Company.
My favorite character is Croaker: The Black Company's doctor and annalist. He, to me, is the embodiment, and the voice of the The Black Company and what it represents; though out the story, Croaker's struggles and attempts at finding some good in a very dark world, where to survive one must often times ignore the incessant inner voice that is always telling us to do what is morally right, seems to mirror The Black Company's struggles to do what is honorable, yet at the same time, do what it needs to do to survive; and what it needs to do to survive is not always the right or moral thing to do.
I have not.
There were several moments throughout the book that moved me. I love the way the author would pull the characters down to the point of utter despair, where all there is left is the brutal task of surviving at all cost; but when it appears this harsh and bleak world had reduce all the inhabitants to savage beasts, these same beasts/characters would pleasantly surprise you with their acts of kindness.
My only complaint with the Black Company is that the authors style of writing takes getting used to. At times, it was difficult to follow and determine what was going on. It seemed to me, that the author would transition from one point to the next without any transitional glues. Sometimes, I had no idea that the author had stop writing about some current event, but instead had already gone on to describing another event.
Although, I would like to note whether this is because of the way it was narated, or if it was in fact the way the story was written.
There was no payoff for my time invested.
Marc brought the end of the book. I'm have no doubt I wouldn't have continued to the end on my own if I was reading it. I had to make myself listen to it in the car and I still hate myself for it. I must have OCD. Marc's reading of the book was dead and seeing his name on the next recording I get would only be a bonus.
I almost jabbed a blunt object in my eye. Does that count?
How is this consistently on lists of top fantasy books to read? I am guessing people read it in their teens and are going on fond memories. I loved Stephen R. Donaldson as a kid and then sadly I ruined my favorite series of all time by rereading them. This has to be what is happening here. The writing is just terrible. The world is pretty much non-existent. I realize the world doesn't have to have much but the characters and story are just weak. The story felt like a Dungeon & Dragons campaign. How do these people get published? Maybe his writing matures at some point but this guy makes Jordan look like Martin.