After the devastating battle at the Tower of Charm, Croaker leads the greatly diminished Black Company south, in search of the lost Annals. The Annals will be returned to Khatovar, 8,000 miles away, a city that may exists only in legend...the origin of the first Free Companies.
Every step of the way, the Company is hounded by shadowy figured and carrion-eating crows. As they march every southward, through bug infested jungle; rivers dense with bloodthirsty pirates; and cities, dead and living, haunted by the passage of the Company north, their numbers grow until they are thousands strong. But always they are watched by the Shadowmasters, a deadly new enemy. They are twisted creatures that deal in darkness and death, powerful, shadowy creatures bent on smothering the world in their foul embrace.
This is the first round in a deadly game, a game that the Black Company cannot hope to win.
Listen to more in the Black Company series.
©1989 Glen Cook (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
I've been listening to a few audio books lately that while were good always felt like a bit of work to get through, that was not the case with Shadow Games.
First off let me say you really don't want to start your Black Company experience here. While Cook does a very good job of allowing this book to be an intro to the series it really will shine in it's proper place as #4.
Following Croaker from book 1 to now you really get a great feel for the guy and are either really interested in his journey or have given up before now. This books picks up right from 3 and does a good job of answering a lot of lingering questions you may have had.
It has as much action as the previous books and brings back enough of the past characters to keep you attached to the events while also adding in enough new gems to keeps things fresh.
Don't get me wrong there book is not perfect. My main gripe relates to the mystery surrounding the villains. It makes some sense but it also is annoying that Cook couldn't come up with better.
Vietor does a great job as always of voicing Croaker and I always felt his performance fit. I have more to add but I want to avoid spoilers even the most obvious ones.
All in all this is a fun read and if you are into the Black Company or this kind of military fantasy style you would really enjoy it.
First of all, I just want to state my opinion that even though this is listed as book 4 (and was written in that order) you should probably think about reading book 5, The Silver Spike, BEFORE this one. Shadow Games starts a brand new story arc that will take you far from the events of The White Rose. The Silver Spike however, is directly related to The White Rose, so you will want to have those events fresh in your memory.
The Silver Spike is also a MUCH better book than Shadow Games.
Perhaps I could just use a break from shotgunning the series on long car rides home, but Shadow Games really starts to feel a little draining. So far this was the only book in the series that I could not wait for the end.
That said, things do get quite a lot more interesting towards the end of the book. But along the way you are introduced to a plethora of new characters that are difficult to care about, racist stereotypes, and a whole culture of hard to pronounce/differentiate fantasy names. When you get to Tagliose, do yourself a favor and start picturing them as analogues to the middle-east/India, it will save you the confusion when listening to the next audiobook. Perhaps they were meant to be this from the beginning but i missed it due to boredom? I don't know...
Also, be prepared to dig your fingers into your steering wheel in frustration as de-powered ladies make way for the menz to step up their commander game.
"A great sequel"
Not quite as enjoyable as the initial trilogy, but still a fantastic read
Story – 4/5
There wasn’t as much intrigue and new fantasy discoveries in this book, as it had mostly been done in the initial trilogy. There was a lot more character development though, as Croaker now has to lead the Black Company, so we are seeing it from a different perspective altogether. There is also a love story involved, which is subtle and believable, and has been built upon very nicely from the previous novels.
Where this story really shines though, is in the final 3 hours, where the battles and skirmishes are plentiful. I also enjoyed the political elements that accompanied it. The ending was excellent, and there are plenty of surprises in there that I did not see coming at all.
This is not a standalone sequel though, there is too much left open at the end, of which I imagine “Dreams of Steel” will follow straight on from. I can’t wait to get stuck into it. This has very quickly become a favourite series of mine, and I am being careful not to rush through all 10 novels.
Performance – 4.5/5
Marc Vietor IS Croaker. Having listened to him act as Croaker for 4 books, I can’t imagine any other voice doing it. The other characters all have distinctly recognisable voices, and he does a superb job, yet again, of setting the mood and atmosphere for the entire story. The more stories I read, the better he gets as well.
Overall – 4/5
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