The Many Deaths of the Black Company

The Many Deaths of the Black Company

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by Glen Cook
     
 

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"Let me tell you who I am, on the chance that these scribblings do survive. . .

"I am Murgen, Standardbearer of the Black Company, though I bear the shame of having lost that standard in battle. I am keeping these Annals because Croaker is dead, One-Eye won't, and hardly anyone else can read or write. I will be your guide for however long it takes the

Overview

"Let me tell you who I am, on the chance that these scribblings do survive. . .

"I am Murgen, Standardbearer of the Black Company, though I bear the shame of having lost that standard in battle. I am keeping these Annals because Croaker is dead, One-Eye won't, and hardly anyone else can read or write. I will be your guide for however long it takes the Shadowlanders to force our present predicament to its inevitable end. . ."

The Many Deaths of the Black Company comprises the novels Water Sleeps and Soldiers Live—the fourth and final omnibus volume of Glen Cook's Chronicles of the Black Company, one of the greatest fantasy epics of our age.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Cook's talent for combining gritty realism and high fantasy provides a singular edge.” —Library Journal on Water Sleeps

“Cook provides a rich world of assorted races, cultures, and religions; his characters combine the mythic or exotic with the realistic, engaging in absorbing alliances, enmities, and double-crosses.” —Publishers Weekly on Bleak Seasons

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780765324016
Publisher:
Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
01/05/2010
Series:
Black Company Series
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
784
Sales rank:
130,878
Product dimensions:
6.28(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.40(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

1

In those days the Black Company did not exist. This I know because there were laws and decrees that told me so. But I did not feel entirely insubstantial.

The Company standard, its Captain and Lieutenant, its Standardbearer and all the men who had made the Company so terrible, had passed on, having been buried alive at the heart of a vast desert of stone. "Glittering stone," they whispered in the streets and alleys of Taglios, and "Gone to Khatovar," they proclaimed from on high, the mighty making what they had been so determined to prevent for so long over into a great triumph once the Radisha or Protector or somebody decided that people ought to believe that the Company had fulfilled its destiny.

Anyone old enough to remember the Company knew better. Only fifty people had ventured out onto that plain of glittering stone. Half of those people had not been Company. Only two of those fifty had returned to lie about what had happened. And a third who had come back to retail the truth had been killed in the Kiaulune wars, far away from the capital. But the deceits of Soulcatcher and Willow Swan fooled no one, then or now. People simply pretended to believe them because that was safer.

They might have asked why Mogaba needed five years to conquer a Company that had passed on, squandering thousands of young lives to bring the Kiaulune domains under the Radisha’s rule and into the realm of the Protector’s twisted truths. They might have mentioned that people claiming to be Black Company had held out in the fortress Overlook for years after that, until the Protector, Soulcatcher, finally became so impatient with their intransigence that she invested her own best sorceries in a two- year project that reduced that huge fortress to white powder, white rubble and white bones. They might have raised these points. But they remained silent instead. They were afraid. With cause, they were afraid.

The Taglian empire under the Protectorate is an empire of fear.

During the years of defiance, one unknown hero won Soulcatcher’s eternal hatred by sabotaging the Shadowgate, the sole gateway to the glittering plain. Soulcatcher was the most powerful sorcerer alive. She might have become a Shadowmaster to eclipse those monsters the Company had pulled down during its earlier wars on Taglios’ behalf. But with the Shadowgate sealed she could not conjure killer shadows more powerful than the few score she had controlled when she worked her treachery on the Company.

Oh, she could open the Shadowgate. One time. She did not know how to close it again, though. Meaning everything inside would be free to wriggle out and begin tormenting the world.

Meaning that for Soulcatcher, party to so few of the secrets, the choice must be all or very little. The end of the world or making do.

For the moment she is making do. And pursuing continuous researches. She is the Protector. Fear of her steeps the empire. There are no challenges to her terror. But even she knows this age of dark concord cannot endure.

Water sleeps.

In their homes, in the shadowed alleyways, in the city’s ten thousand temples, nervous whispers never cease. The Year of the Skulls. The Year of the Skulls. It is an age when no gods die and those that sleep keep stirring restlessly.

In their homes, in the shadowed alleyways or fields of grain or in the sodden paddies, in the pastures and forests and tributary cities, should a comet be seen in the sky or should an unseasonable storm strew devastation or, particularly, if the earth should shake, they murmur, "Water sleeps." And they are afraid.

Excerpted from The Many Deaths of the Black Company by Glen Cook.
Copyright 2009 by Glen Cook.
Published in January 2010 by Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

Meet the Author

GLEN COOK lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

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Many Deaths of the Black Company 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Swan79 More than 1 year ago
I've never enjoyed being confused more while reading a book than when reading the Black Company series. Glen Cook takes you on a wild ride and one thing you can definitely say is that these books aren't predictable. The character development is outstanding and constantly moving. Old characters die and new characters arrive and then old ones come back and you can't wait to see what is going to happen next. The pace of the Black Company series is all over the place with months and years passing, glossing over major battles and then going into detail in simple conversations. The dark humor had me laughing out loud at times. I've never read a series quite like this one. I recommend this to anyone that loves to lose themselves in a book and always be surprised.
Rkard More than 1 year ago
Even water sleeps but an enemy never rests. Soldiers live and wonder why. The titles explain the core of this latest, last volume of the Chroniques of the Black Company. NOBODY betrays the Black Company and lives to tell of it. The Black company collects its debts in blood and catastrophe no matter how much it has to pay or how many innocents get harmed. Merciless, relentless, eternal in its ever-shifting incarnations, a brotherhood of outcasts. Sleepy will bring ruin to those who destroyed the Black Company and rescue those who were abandoned in Katovar. Her Company but a pathetic gang. But its name is all it needs in a city ruled by chaos and fear of a madwoman. Croaker has grown old beyond his hopes and fears and his Company is dead and dying. But it is the Black Company, it ever rebuilds itself from the brink, to bring disaster to everybody in its path. Armed with new troops and old magics, with old grudges and faces almost as old. Ready to wrap it all up by killing all its foes. Lady is old as evil and its mother, and her hatred makes the Companys' look like nothing. But she has also grown old, ands she wants her lost daughter. Even if she wants her dead. It is the end of the road. And it ends in death. But the Black Company has come back from death before and so have some of its enemies. This time it will make sure none of them are left behind to plague it again. Even if everybody has to die. A great and sad work of Glen Cook to conclude a long and eventful saga.
ArgentSun More than 1 year ago
--- Spoiler Free --- Having finished this book, I can say that Cook went a little downhill in his later works in the series. The last ombibus is certainly not a boring book - but it's not as good as the first one. I think my biggest issue with the last two omnibuses is that most of the characters felt new and foreign to me. Soon after I started the Black Company series, I felt like I new the core of the Company pretty well. The Captain, Goblin, One-Eye, Elmo, Croaker, they all had fairly distinct personalities. As more and more of them died and got replaced by new recruits, I just couldn't imagine them as well. Sleepy, for example, despite her big roles in the last few books, is almost completely foreign to me - her actions are unpredictable. Another issue I have with this omnibus - and the last one for that matter - is the annoying use of deux ex machina. Villains' lives will be spared seemingly just so they can provide a convenient plot twist later on when they escape. And then those same villains will make some stupid mistake. There is some justification provided for those actions, but it's usually pretty shabby. All this being said, this is not a bad book. On a 10-point scale, if the series started off as an 8 (for me), it ended as at least 6-6.5 or so. I don't regret reading it. I guess the fact that I wish it were better means that Cook managed to make it interesting enough for me to care...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ditto what the previous reviewer said. I would only add that if there seems to be less humor in the last two books, that's because in Cook's world people change and grow old realistically. This saga has, for me, always belonged to the story of Croaker and Lady - their story finds about as good a resolution as one could hope for. The whole thing is much, MUCH better than his "Instumentalities of the Night" stuff.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A simply amazing addition and finale to the Black Company series. Glen Cook maintains his "no bull" style throughout the whole series, and these books are no exception. Characters are realistic, and can be terrifying and wonderful at the same time. Sometimes, they are enigmatic and mysterious, and other times they show the weaknesses we ourselves have. The plot is riveting as usual, keeping the reader's eyes glued to the page from harrowing encounter to the next, sprinkled with some definite food for thought. This book, and other Black Company books, are great buys for any fantasy enthusiast, and stands at the top of my list easily.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read the first 6 books when the came out, then waited years to get closer to Khatovar. I agree with other reviewers about the last 4 except I thought the end was amazingly right for Croaker.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I agree with other reviews, the Books of the North were more intriguing. My favorite characters were One-Eye and Goblin and their drunk magic battles. The whole series was worth reading and I enjoyed every second of it. Even though the title forshadows what's going to happen, it still bummed me out when certain characters were killed off. Great ending, even left room if a protege author wanted to continue this compelling story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I first read The Black Company when it first came out in paperback in the 80s. I had to wait for the following books in the series to be written in order to get my hands on them. I would frequently check the book stores for the latest book in the series. All were worth the wait. I've read reviews of people who think they are critics critique the books and thought they absurd. Glen Cook's writing style provides vivid detail and characters so realistic they could walk off the pages of the book. Personally I think his fan base grows with each passing year. I believe the future will see him as one of the great story tellers of our time. I'd really love to see the series made into movies. The character interaction and fight scenes would be enthralling. Glen Cook is one of the few authors I'd like to meet and have a conversation with about his characters.
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ClippedWings More than 1 year ago
Good stuff. A bit depressing at times but I got over it. I think the Books of the North were better just because of the sheer scale of the conflict and how much more interesting and vibrant the characters were. In this last book the focus shifted more to politics rather than war and most of the new characters lacked the appeal of the the old ones.  Still, a very good book overall.
Mocker More than 1 year ago
Powerful finish to the series. I'll miss some of these characters quite a bit.
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