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.
Libertas et Veritas JuCo English Tutor, Adoring father of a nine year old son, grateful husband and professional US Army Infantryman.
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.
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.
I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)
err... probably I shouldn't have gotten this in audio format - in paper format I could have skimmed the pages and pages of descriptive babble. Actually, I shouldn't have gotten it in paper format either. It should have stayed on the bookshelf.
There is no real plot - it's just a bunch of blah-blah about some mercenaries and the battles they get into. The author is very descriptive and explains every detail, for example, about swinging a sword in battle and how it impacts and what happens after it impacts, and so on. It is not graphic though, just overly detailed. It's kinda like Cook wanted to copy Joe Abercrombie's work in its wordiness and focus on the steps involved in completing a task, but written for a YA audience, so there is no blood or guts or bad words. Oh, and there is no sense that justice is being sought, and no vigilante action... it's a straight up "group of men with various magical powers go to A and kill people, then go to B and are attacked, then go to C and have a battle"... ad nauseam. We don't know why they are doing this (other than it's their job), and we don't care since they aren't trying to right any wrongs, or solve any problems.
So, essentially, it is long and boring and who really cares what happens to these wordily-described characters? Although there are pages and pages devoted to describing what they look like and their actions (i.e. they play cards a lot... yes, he describes their card games... "Goblin played card A, Raven played card B, then Bob won by turning over an ace")....they are all cutouts, except maybe the main character, and he's only fleshed out because he talks incessantly. Literally - talks incessantly - about everything: "person A did this and person B did that and person C laughed"... and so on. Too bad we don't care.
If you like the premise of dark/violent fantasy, try anything by Abercrombie (extremely dark) , or Brett's Warded Man (less violent than Abercrombie), or even Weeks' Way of Shadows... All of them are what this book seems to be trying to be.
The narration is okay - given how the book was written, I'm not sure he had much to work with. There is no swearing or gore or sex. I won't be reading any more in the series since I need there to be some plot or goal, and, if there is violence, I need it to be to the point, not half-hidden in descriptive babble that goes on for 15 minutes at a time.
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 found most of the criticisms of this book posted by other reviewers are spot on. very shallow characters, ridiculous character names, no depth to the story, unrealistic dialogue
“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.
The Black Company was written in 1984 and isn't exactly written in a format that translates well to audiobook. The story is told from the perspective of Croaker who is both the Black Company's physician and Annalist. In addition to documenting the exploits of the Black Company in the "Annals" Croaker also reads older entries to the Black Company to recount the tales of those who have gone before. This book could be a considered a future reading of the Annals as they were written by Croaker.
And therein lies one of the issues with the audiobook. You are given no clue when one entry ends and another begins so the story seems to just "skip" key parts. It can often take a little time to reacquire your bearings after this happens and this is reflected in many of the other reviews. Combine that with the fact that there isn't always the level of detail one would expect and you have a slightly disjointed and confusing listening experience. I feel I would have enjoyed this more if I had read the book instead of listening to it, but that is not a knock on Marc Vietor. He does a decent job reading this one especially since he has to portray a character who speaks in many different voices.
I found Croaker and some of the other Black Company members to be interesting but at no point did I become overly attached to them. As mercenaries they have a twisted sense of honor and duty that doesn't necessarily make you root for them. After betraying one ruler who contracted their services they are reluctant to betray the next one because that would damage their reputation too much. They do reflect on their own morality throughout the book but as you would expect it gets put aside as needed.
For those who initially got engaged in this series many years ago I would imagine it is a positive experience to listen to this one but if you are new to the series I would have to say there is better dark & gritty fantasy out there.