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The Black Company (1984)

av Glen Cook

Andra författare: Se under Andra författare.

Serier: Chronicles of the Black Company (1)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
2,470634,484 (3.8)115
Some feel the Lady, newly risen from centuries in thrall, stands between humankind and evil. Some feel she is evil itself. The hard-bitten men of the Black Company take their pay and do what they must, burying their doubts with their dead. Until the prophesy: The White Rose has been reborn, somewhere, to embody good once more. There must be a way for the Black Company to find her... So begins one of the greatest fantasy epics of our age--Glen Cook's Chronicles of the Black Company.… (mer)
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    Cecrow: The Black Company was a strong influence on the development of Malazan.
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» Se även 115 omnämnanden

engelska (61)  franska (1)  italienska (1)  Alla språk (63)
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This was another one of my series-sampling audio listens, to see if I might want to pursue it in print someday.

Audio Narration
The narrator is Marc Vietor. He didn’t work for me but, unlike most of the previous narrators I’ve had trouble with, I can’t pinpoint very specific things I didn’t like. As a military fantasy story, it has a lot of different male characters, and I had trouble distinguishing their voices. I’m not even sure if it’s fair to blame the narrator for that, as it would be difficult to come up with and consistently use that many different male voices. This was a case though where I think I would have heard some of the characters differently in my head if I’d read the book in print.

Other than that, the narration was just kind of… drab. I always say I prefer the narrators who aren’t melodramatic, but I think Vietor is the first who went too far in the opposite direction for me. It had a kind of bored tone to it. Maybe it was intended to convey the tone of macho mercenaries who’ve seen it all before, but it didn’t really come across that way. Besides, these “macho” mercenaries were constantly pale and shaking and squeaking and scared according to the text.

Still, I don’t feel like any of those complaints are tangible, but rather just the case of a narration voice that didn’t click with me. The one tangible complaint I have is in reference to the aforementioned squeaking. When the text said a character was talking in a squeaky or high voice because he was scared, the narrator would alter that character’s voice to sound female and nothing like how he’d been voicing the character the rest of the time.

Story
The story focuses on a group of mercenaries called The Black Company. At the beginning of the book, the Company is in charge of protecting a local leader, but as the situation deteriorates, the Company jumps ship (or gets on a ship, I guess) to work for somebody whose prospects seem healthier. But they really don’t understand what they’re getting themselves into, and ignore the hints that they may not have chosen the nicest of employers. The story is told from the first person POV of Croaker, an annalist as well as a medic for the Company. He’s often in the middle of the action because he wants to be able to write accurately about what happened.

I felt like I should have liked this more than I did. Much like with the narration, I’m having trouble pinpointing what I didn’t like. I was frequently frustrated by the characters from the Company, so I think that was a large part of it. Croaker tells us over and over about how honorable and noble they are, but they do some pretty rotten things to save their own skin at the beginning of the story, and they never did anything that really redeemed that in my eyes. Then they stolidly stuck by the people who were clearly evil. I did like the way the characters looked out for each other, but their choices annoyed me constantly.

I can usually enjoy books where there’s questionable morality, so I don’t think that was my problem, but when I like those types of stories it’s usually because I enjoy the moral ambiguity that keeps me guessing. Which side, if any, is really the good side? What are the real motivations of the various characters? What will the results be if they achieve their goals? In the case of this book, I never really asked myself those questions. I didn’t know all the answers, but I was never that curious about the ones I didn’t know. I got tired of the Company making bad decisions combined with turning a blind eye to anything that might force them to make hard decisions.

There’s not as much fighting as one might expect in a military fantasy. More toward the end, but otherwise it’s mostly smaller-scale stuff. There is quite a lot of action, though. I found myself spacing out a lot during the action, but I’m finding that I have more trouble with that in audiobooks than print books, so I might have enjoyed those parts more in print. However, I think for me to really enjoy action scenes, I need more investment in the characters than what I had.

Still, despite all that, I stayed pretty interested in the story. There were a couple more enigmatic characters that I enjoyed slowly learning more about, mainly Raven and Catcher. I also enjoyed the camaraderie of the characters in the Company. It was kind of interesting to be reading from the perspective of mercenaries who are fighting for the bad guys. How often do we read fantasy books from the perspective of the good guys who are fighting against an enemy that’s hired mercenaries? Well, this time we get things from the opposite perspective.

I’m going to mark this as a “probably” for revisiting in print, despite my complaints and lukewarm reaction. I’m confident I would have liked this at least a little better in print, I’m just not sure how much better. Some of the characters had grown on me more by the end, so I’d like to try reading at least through the second book and then decide from there. ( )
2 rösta YouKneeK | Jun 22, 2021 |
This in a strange way reminded me of the Prince Roger series by John Ringo. But in this series the murder is called evil instead of good with no pretense of virtue by the soldiers. They are killers, stone cold killers and get paid for it. The characters are tissue thin and the dialog is cadged from b-movies but there is something very inventive about the setting. Given that its the first book by a long time author, I'll probably give some fo the sequels a go. One thing I love is seeing author's get better through successive books. ( )
  frfeni | Jan 31, 2021 |
This is a classic of fantasy as a genre. Not a Conan classic, or a Leibner classic, or even a Tolkien classic.

Cook is in the stable with Wolfe as an author that other authors read and were heavily influenced by.

This series is his most original, and it is [i]different.[/i] It is a "From the trenches" view of someone else's epic fantasy, the tale of a mercenary company who takes a contract- and then finds out they took the contract of a mythical, cyclic great evil.

This opening book is in some ways the weakest of the series- it is less focused, the voice of the narrator less developed, more time is spent fleshing the world out a bit- but at the same time all the key elements are present.

The conceit of the novels is that the Black Company, last of the Free Companies of Khatovar, uniquely maintains a set of Annals recording their deeds, their enlistments, their contracts, and their history. The Company is a Foreign Legion for hire- your past dies when you join the Company, but the only way out of the Company is feet-first. The Annals are the immortality of its brotherhood, and more importantly (implied but not shown) make the Company far more professional and competent than those they fight, serving as a combination of Officer's Manual/Scouts Handbook for its members. No matter the situation, the Company has seen something before- and this is how they survived.

In this book, Croaker, physician of the Company- a fully trained medic- has become the Annalist. As a man of education, he reveres the Annals and makes a point of taking down everything, in narrative format, as a rejection of the terse style of his immediate predecessors. The Company is hired by a strange legate of a foreign power; which then reveals itself as one of the Ten Who Were Taken, servants of the Lady in her bid to re-establish the Domination after escaping from their centuries-long living entombment by the White Rose in the Barrowland of the far north. The Sons of the White Rose are everywhere, rising up and waging a war on the Lady's nascent empire, and the Company are just the kind of weapon the Taken can use to rout out such fanatics.

If that doesn't sound awesome, why read fantasy? ( )
  BrainFireBob | Jan 25, 2021 |
I loved the prose for the most part. While there was some overuse of certain verbs (e.g., giggle), overall it flowed nicely. I enjoyed the premise - the grand sweeping battle of good and evil as seen by the grunt on the front lines with little personal stake.

I'm torn on the morality. There seemed to be a few things thrown in just to demonstrate how grimdark the world is. To me, that's never really acceptable. Be grimdark, but with a purpose/point. Otherwise you're just being a middleschooler playing a grossout game. But instances of this were pretty few and there were a lot of well done examples. The plot went back and forth on who was 'Good' and who was 'Bad.' This is something that fantasy doesn't do well or do often, so I found it a refreshing bit of complexity, but as the Black Company are just hired goons, they aren't really the movers and shakers of the plot, and as such, I felt less invested.

There's no exposition worldbuilding dumps, but there's also a lot of action that takes place off screen and a lot of missing context. This book seemed to swing too far in the opposite direction, proving a bit too little rather than too much. ( )
  kaitlynn_g | Dec 13, 2020 |
Boring and long winded prose with no interesting characters or plot points. Pass. ( )
  jerame2999 | Nov 14, 2020 |
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Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Cook, Glenprimär författarealla utgåvorbekräftat
Berdak, KeithOmslagmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Hiltunen, PetriOmslagmedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Vietor, MarcBerättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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This one is for the people of the St. Louis Science Fiction Society. Love you all.
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There were prodigies and portents enough, One-Eye says. We must blame ourselves for misinterpreting them. One-Eye’s handicap in no way impairs his marvelous hindsight.
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No one will sing songs in our memory. We are the last of the Free Companies of Khatovar. Our traditions and memories live only in these Annals. We are our only mourners.
"Evil is relative, Annalist. You can't hang a sign on it. You can't touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger."
I am not religious. I cannot conceive of gods who would give a damn about humanity’s frothy carryings-on. I mean, logically, beings of that order just wouldn’t. But maybe there is a force for greater good, created by our unconscious minds conjoined, that becomes an independent power greater than the sum of its parts. Maybe, being a mind-thing, it is not time-bound. Maybe it can see everywhere and everywhen and move pawns so that what seems to be today’s victory becomes the cornerstone of tomorrow’s defeat.
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Some feel the Lady, newly risen from centuries in thrall, stands between humankind and evil. Some feel she is evil itself. The hard-bitten men of the Black Company take their pay and do what they must, burying their doubts with their dead. Until the prophesy: The White Rose has been reborn, somewhere, to embody good once more. There must be a way for the Black Company to find her... So begins one of the greatest fantasy epics of our age--Glen Cook's Chronicles of the Black Company.

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