Books of the South: Shadow Games, Dreams of Steel, The Silver Spike

Books of the South: Shadow Games, Dreams of Steel, The Silver Spike

by Glen Cook

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Marching south after the ghastly battle at the Tower of Charm, the Black Company is hounded by shadowy figures every inch of the way.

The game is on: the Company versus the Shadowmasters, deadly creatures that deal in darkness and sorrow.

When hope dies, there's still survival. And there's still the Black Company.

The Book of the South is the second omnibus of novels from one of the greatest fantasy epics of our age, Glen Cook's Black Company series—collecting Shadow Games, Dreams of Steel, and The Silver Spike.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780765320667
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 06/10/2008
Series: Black Company Series
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 672
Sales rank: 81,157
Product dimensions: 9.20(w) x 6.06(h) x 1.16(d)

About the Author

Glen Cook lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

Date of Birth:

July 9, 1944

Place of Birth:

New York City, New York

Read an Excerpt

The Books of the South

Tales of the Black Company

By Glen Cook

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 2008 Glen Cook
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7653-2066-7


The Crossroads

We seven remained at the crossroads, watching the dust from the eastern way. Even irrepressible One-Eye and Goblin were stricken by the finality of the hour. Otto's horse whickered. He closed her nostrils with one hand, patted her neck with the other, quieting her. It was a time for contemplation, the final emotional milemark of an era.

Then there was no more dust. They were gone. Birds began to sing, so still did we remain. I took an old notebook from my saddlebag, settled in the road. In a shaky hand I wrote: The end has come. The parting is done. Silent, Darling, and the Torque brothers have taken the road to Lords. The Black Company is no more.

Yet I will continue to keep the Annals, if only because a habit of twenty-five years is so hard to break. And, who knows? Those to whom I am obliged to carry them may find the account interesting. The heart is stilled but the corpse stumbles on. The Company is dead in fact but not in name.

And we, O merciless gods, stand witness to the power of names.

I replaced the book in my saddlebag. "Well, that's that." I swatted the dust off the back of my lap, peered down our own road into tomorrow. A low line of greening hills formed a fencerow over which sheeplike tufts began to bound. "The quest begins. We have time to cover the first dozen miles."

That would leave only seven or eight thousand more.

I surveyed my companions.

One-Eye was the oldest by a century, a wizard, wrinkled and black as a dusty prune. He wore an eyepatch and a floppy, battered black felt hat. That hat seemed to suffer every conceivable misfortune, yet survived every indignity.

Likewise Otto, a very ordinary man. He had been wounded a hundred times and had survived. He almost believed himself favored of the gods.

Otto's sidekick was Hagop, another man with no special color. But another survivor. My glance surprised a tear.

Then there was Goblin. What is there to say of Goblin? The name says it all, and yet nothing? He was another wizard, small, feisty, forever at odds with One-Eye, without whose enmity he would curl up and die. He was the inventor of the frog-faced grin.

We five have been together twenty-some years. We have grown old together. Perhaps we know one another too well. We form limbs of a dying organism. Last of a mighty, magnificent, storied line. I fear we, who look more like bandits than the best soldiers in the world, denigrate the memory of the Black Company.

Two more. Murgen, whom One-Eye sometimes calls Pup, was twenty-eight. The youngest. He joined the Company after our defection from the empire. He was a quiet man of many sorrows, unspoken, with no one and nothing but the Company to call his own, yet an outside and lonely man even here.

As are we all. As are we all.

Lastly, there was Lady, who used to be the Lady. Lost Lady, beautiful Lady, my fantasy, my terror, more silent than Murgen, but from a different cause: despair. Once she had it all. She gave it up. Now she has nothing.

Nothing she knows to be of value.

That dust on the Lords road was gone, scattered by a chilly breeze. Some of my beloved had departed my life forever.

No sense staying around. "Cinch them up," I said, and set an example. I tested the ties on the pack animals. "Mount up. One-Eye, you take the point."

Finally, a hint of spirit as Goblin carped, "I have to eat his dust?" If One-Eye had point that meant Goblin had rearguard. As wizards they were no mountain movers, but they were useful. One fore and one aft left me feeling far more comfortable.

"About his turn, don't you think?"

"Things like that don't deserve a turn," Goblin said. He tried to giggle but only managed a smile that was a ghost of his usual toadlike grin.

One-Eye's answering glower was not much pumpkin, either. He rode out without comment.

Murgen followed fifty yards behind, a twelve-foot lance rigidly upright. Once that lance had flaunted our standard. Now it trailed four feet of tattered black cloth. The symbolism lay on several levels.

We knew who we were. It was best that others did not. The Company had too many enemies.

Hagop and Otto followed Murgen, leading pack animals. Then came Lady and I, also with tethers behind. Goblin trailed us by seventy yards. And thus we always traveled for we were at war with the world. Or maybe it was the other way around.

I might have wished for outriders and scouts, but there was a limit to what seven could accomplish. Two wizards were the next best thing.

We bristled with weaponry. I hoped we looked as easy as a hedgehog does to a fox.

The eastbound road dropped out of sight. I was the only one to look back in hopes Silent had found a vacancy in his heart. But that was a vain fantasy. And I knew it.

In emotional terms we had parted ways with Silent and Darling months ago, on the blood-sodden, hate-drenched battleground of the Barrowland.

A world was saved there, and so much else lost. We will live out our lives wondering about the cost.

Different hearts, different roads.

"Looks like rain, Croaker," Lady said.

Her remark startled me. Not that what she said was not true. It did look like rain. But it was the first observation she had volunteered since that dire day in the north.

Maybe she was going to come around.


The Road South

"The farther we come, the more it looks like spring," One-Eye observed. He was in a good mood.

I caught the occasional glint of mischief brewing in Goblin's eyes too, lately. Before long those two would find some excuse to revive their ancient feud. The magical sparks would fly. If nothing else, the rest of us would be entertained.

Even Lady's mood improved, though she spoke little more than before.

"Break's over," I said. "Otto, kill the fire. Goblin. Your point." I stared down the road. Another two weeks and we would be near Charm. I had not yet revealed what we had to do there.

I noticed buzzards circling. Something dead ahead, near the road.

I do not like omens. They make me uncomfortable. Those birds made me uncomfortable.

I gestured. Goblin nodded. "I'll go now," he said. "Stretch it out a bit."


Murgen gave him an extra fifty yards. Otto and Hagop gave Murgen additional room. But One-Eye kept pressing up behind Lady and I, rising in his stirrups, trying to keep an eye on Goblin. "Got a bad feeling about that, Croaker," he said. "A bad feeling."

Though Goblin raised no alarm, One-Eye was right. Those doombirds did mark a bad thing.

A fancy coach lay overturned beside the road. Two of its team of four had been killed in the traces, probably because of injuries. Two animals were missing.

Around the coach lay the bodies of six uniformed guards and the driver, and that of one riding horse. Within the coach were a man, a woman, and two small children. All murdered.

"Hagop," I said, "see what you can read from the signs. Lady. Do you know these people? Do you recognize their crest?" I indicated fancywork on the coach door.

"The Falcon of Rail. Proconsul of the empire. But he isn't one of those. He's older, and fat. They might be family."

Hagop told us, "They were headed north. The brigands overtook them." He held up a scrap of dirty cloth. "They didn't get off easy themselves." When I did not respond he drew my attention to the scrap.

"Grey boys," I mused. Grey boys were imperial troops of the northern armies. "Bit out of their territory."

"Deserters," Lady said. "The dissolution has begun."

"Likely." I frowned. I had hoped decay would hold off till we got a running start.

Lady mused, "Three months ago travelling the empire was safe for a virgin alone."

She exaggerated. But not much. Before the struggle in the Barrowland consumed them, great powers called the Taken watched over the provinces and requited unlicensed wickedness swiftly and ferociously. Still, in any land or time, there are those brave or fool enough to test the limits, and others eager to follow their example. That process was accelerating in an empire bereft of its cementing horrors.

I hoped their passing had not yet become a general suspicion. My plans depended on the assumption of old guises.

"Shall we start digging?" Otto asked.

"In a minute," I said. "How long ago did it happen, Hagop?"

"Couple of hours."

"And nobody's been along?"

"Oh, yeah. But they just went around."

"Must be a nice bunch of bandits," One-Eye mused. "If they can get away with leaving bodies laying around."

"Maybe they're supposed to be seen," I said. "Could be they're trying to carve out their own barony."

"Likely," Lady said. "Ride carefully, Croaker."

I raised an eyebrow.

"I don't want to lose you."

One-Eye cackled. I reddened. But it was good to see some life in her.

* * *

We buried the bodies but left the coach. Civilized obligation fulfilled, we resumed our journey.

Two hours later Goblin came riding back. Murgen stationed himself where he could be seen on a curve. We were in a forest now, but the road was in good repair, with the woods cleared back from its sides. It was a road upgraded for military traffic.

Goblin said, "There's an inn up ahead. I don't like its feel."

Night would be along soon. We had spent the afternoon planting the dead. "It look alive?" The countryside had gotten strange after the burying. We met no one on the road. The farms near the woods were abandoned.

"Teeming. Twenty people in the inn. Five more in the stables. Thirty horses. Another twenty people out in the woods. Forty more horses penned there. A lot of other livestock, too."

The implications seemed obvious enough. Pass by, or meet trouble head-on?

The debate was brisk. Otto and Hagop said straight in. We had One-Eye and Goblin if it got hairy.

One-Eye and Goblin did not like being put on the spot.

I demanded an advisory vote. Murgen and Lady abstained. Otto and Hagop were for stopping. One-Eye and Goblin eyeballed one another, each waiting for the other to jump so he could come down on the opposite side.

"We go straight at it, then," I said. "These clowns are going to split but still make a majority for ..." Whereupon the wizards ganged up and voted to jump in just to make a liar out of me.

Three minutes later I caught my first glimpse of the ramshackle inn. A hardcase stood in the doorway, studying Goblin. Another sat in a rickety chair, tilted against the wall, chewing a stick or piece of straw. The man in the doorway withdrew.

* * *

Grey boys Hagop had called the bandits whose handiwork we encountered on the road. But grey was the color of uniforms in the territories whence we came. In Forsberger, the most common language in the northern forces, I asked the man in the chair, "Place open for business?"

"Yeah." Chair-sitter's eyes narrowed. He wondered.

"One-Eye. Otto. Hagop. See to the animals." Softly, I asked, "You catching anything, Goblin?"

"Somebody just went out the back. They're on their feet inside. But it don't look like trouble right away."

Chair-sitter did not like us whispering. "How long you reckon on staying?" he asked. I noted a tattoo on one wrist, another giveaway betraying him as an immigrant from the north.

"Just tonight."

"We're crowded, but we'll fit you in somehow." He was a cool one.

Trapdoor spiders, these deserters. The inn was their base, the place where they marked out their victims. But they did their dirt on the road.

Silence reigned inside the inn. We examined the men there as we entered, and a few women who looked badly used. They did not ring true. Wayside inns usually are family-run establishments, infested with kids and old folks and all the oddities in between. None of those were evident. Just hard men and bad women.

There was a large table available near the kitchen door. I seated myself with my back to a wall. Lady plopped down beside me. I sensed her anger. She was not accustomed to being looked at the way these men were looking at her.

She remained beautiful despite road dirt and rags.

I rested a hand upon one of hers, a gesture of restraint rather than of possession.

A plump girl of sixteen with haunted bovine eyes came to ask how many we were, our needs in food and quarters, whether bath water should be heated, how long we meant to tarry, what was the color of our coin. She did it listlessly but right, as though beyond hope, filled only with dread of the cost of doing it wrong.

I intuited her as belonging to the family who rightfully operated the inn.

I tossed her a gold piece. We had plenty, having looted certain imperial treasures before departing the Barrowland. The flicker of the spinning coin sparked a sudden glitter in the eyes of men pretending not to be watching.

One-Eye and the others clumped in, dragged up chairs. The little black man whispered, "There's a big stir out in the woods. They have plans for us." A froggish grin yanked at the left corner of his mouth. I gathered he might have plans of his own. He likes to let the bad guys ambush themselves.

"There's plans and plans," I said. "If they are bandits, we'll let them hang themselves."

He wanted to know what I meant. My schemes sometimes got more nasty than his. That is because I lose my sense of humor and just go for maximum dirt.

* * *

We rose before dawn. One-Eye and Goblin used a favorite spell to put everyone in the inn into a deep sleep. Then they slipped out to repeat their performance in the woods. The rest of us readied our animals and gear. I had a small skirmish with Lady. She wanted me to do something for the women kept captive by the brigands.

"If I try to right every wrong I run into, I'll never get to Khatovar."

She did not respond. We rode out minutes later.

* * *

One-Eye said we were near the end of the forest. "This looks as good a place as any," I said. Murgen, Lady, and I turned into the woods west of the road. Hagop, Otto, and Goblin turned east. One-Eye just turned around and waited.

He was doing nothing apparent. Goblin was busy, too.

"What if they don't come?" Murgen asked.

"Then we guessed wrong. They're not bandits. I'll send them an apology on the wind."

Nothing got said for a while. When next I moved forward to check the road One-Eye was no longer alone. A half-dozen horsemen backed him. My heart twisted. His phantoms were all men I had known, old comrades, long dead.

I retreated, more shaken than I had expected. My emotional state did not improve. Sunlight dropped through the forest canopy to dapple the doubles of more dead friends. They waited with shields and weapons ready, silently, as befit ghosts.

They were not ghosts, really, except in my mind. They were illusions crafted by One-Eye. Across the road Goblin was raising his own shadow legion.

Given time to work, those two were quite the artists.

There was no doubt, now, even who Lady was.

"Hoofbeats," I said, needlessly. "They're coming."

My stomach turned over. Had I bet to an inside straight? Taken too long a shot? If they chose to fight ... If Goblin or One-Eye faltered ...

"Too late for debate, Croaker."

I looked at Lady, a glowing memory of what she had been. She was smiling. She knew my mind. How many times had she been there herself, albeit on a grander game board?

The brigands pounded down the aisle formed by the road. And reined in in confusion when they saw One-Eye awaiting them.

I started forward. All through the woods ghost horses moved with me. There was harness noise, brush noise. Nice touch, One-Eye. What you call verisimilitude.

There were twenty-five bandits. They wore ghastly expressions. Their faces went paler still when they spied Lady, when they saw the specter-banner on Murgen's lance.

The Black Company was pretty well known.

Two hundred ghost bows bent. Fifty hands tried to find some sky-belly to grab. "I suggest you dismount and disarm," I told their captain. He gulped air a few times, considered the odds, did as directed. "Now clear away from the horses. You naughty boys."

They moved. Lady made a gesture. The horses all turned and trotted toward Goblin, who was their real motivator. He let the animals pass. They would return to the inn, to proclaim the terror ended.

Slick. Oh, slick. Not even a hangnail. That was the way we did it in the old days. Maneuver and trickery. Why get yourself hurt if you can whip them with a shuffle and con?

We got the prisoners into a rope coffle where they could be adequately controlled, then headed south. The brigands were greatly exercised when Goblin and One-Eye relaxed. They didn't think it was fair of us.

Two days later we reached Vest. With One-Eye and Goblin again supporting her grand illusion, Lady remanded the deserters to the justice of the garrison commander. We only had to kill two of them to get them there.

Something of a distraction along the road. Now there was none, and Charm drew closer by the hour. I had to face the fact that trouble beckoned.

The bulk of the Annals, which my companions believed to be in my possession, remained in Imperial hands. They had been captured at Queen's Bridge, an old defeat that still stings. I was promised their return shortly before the crisis in the Barrowland. But that crisis prevented their delivery. Afterward, there was nothing to do but go fetch them myself.


Excerpted from The Books of the South by Glen Cook. Copyright © 2008 Glen Cook. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Shadow Games,
1. The Crossroads,
2. The Road South,
3. A Tavern in Taglios,
4. The Dark Tower,
5. Chains of Empire,
6. Opal,
7. Smoke and the Woman,
8. Opal: Crows,
9. Across the Screaming Sea,
10. Shadowmasters,
11. A March into Yesteryear,
12. The Shaggy Hills,
13. Willow's Last Night Little,
14. Through D'loc Aloc,
15. The Savannah,
16. Willow's War,
17. Gea-Xle,
18. The Barge,
19. The River,
20. Willow up the Creek,
21. Thresh,
22. Taglios,
23. Willow, Bats, and Things,
24. Taglios: A Princely Pressure,
25. Taglios: Scouting Southward,
26. Overlook,
27. Night Strife,
28. Back to Scouting,
29. Smoke's Hideout,
30. Taglios Aroused,
31. Taglios: a Boot-Camp City,
32. Shadowlight,
33. Taglios: Drunken Wizards,
34. To Ghoja,
35. Before Ghoja,
36. Ghoja,
37. Shadowlight: Coal-Dark Tears,
38. Invaders of the Shadowlands,
39. Stormgard (formerly Dejagore),
40. Dejagore (formerly Stormgard),
41. Lady,
42. That Stump,
43. Overlook,
44. Glittering Stone,
Dreams of Steel,
Envoi: Down There,
The Silver Spike,
Tor Books by Glen Cook,

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Books of the South 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 49 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
¿Shadow Games¿. The Black Company took heavy losses at the battle of the Tower of Charm. Croaker leads what is left of his comrades in arms on a quest to find the lost Annals in order to bring it to the free companies¿ birth city Khatovar that may not exist outside of ancient history or perhaps mythos. The expedition is dangerous from the natural predators, but they must deal with shadowmaster wizards who believe humans are expendable at a time the squad still hurts. --- ¿Dreams of Steel¿. Following another devastating battle at Degajore, Croaker is missing and probably dead. A former brutal wizard-empress, Lady is in charge of those members of the Black Company that escaped the city¿s death trap. She struggles to rally her force as they must make a desperate attack on the seemingly invincible shadowmaster wizards. --- ¿The Silver Spike¿. As much of the Black Company survivors trek south in search of legendary Khatovar, some depart. Darling rejects Raven, who becomes bitter and an alcoholic until Philodendron Case begins to help him. Darling and Silent return to their underground haven. Others are also in retreat and hiding. --- This omnibus contains books 4-6 and is a natural follow-up to the first omnibus reprint (see CHRONICLES OF THE BLACK COMPANY containing the first three tales - The Black Company, Shadows Linger, and The White Rose). The fine military fantasy saga holds up well through books 4 and 5 and the twists appear plausible as Glen Cook provides the full impact of war on people. However, the Omnibus edition enhances flaws as Lady seems to have the same command voice as Croaker that is blatantly obvious when reading Shadow Games and Dreams of Steel and The Silver Spike is a fascinating sidebar tying up some dangling threads, but feels out of place (though it is my personal favorite). Still the Black Company remains strong military fantasy. --- Harriet Klausner
DRFP on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's true that these stories aren't up to the standard of the excellent original triology. The Black Company's past wasn't something we desperately needed to know; and in fact one of Cook's strengths as a fantasy writer was how little time he spent on world building throughout the first three novels. Cook could simply have carried on the story of The Black Company by having another annalist write about the adventures of the Company during his own times. We didn't need *this*.But, criticism aside, these stories are still a darn good read. Sure, there are problems with characters coming back and characters missing from the original. But these tales are just a lot of fun to read and, really, that's the most important thing.It is annoying though that this collection only begins the tale of the Black Company in the south. I suppose we'll have to wait for the next omnibus to reprint the remaining four volumes so we can see how it all ends.
BobNolin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Obviously a case of the author and publisher milking a popular series to death. The first three Black Company novels were very good, collected together in Chronicles of the Black Company. The three books in this omnibus have nowhere near the quality, sense of humor, or plotting of the first three. People who were good and truly dead in Chronicles are suddenly alive again, for no apparent reason, other than to make the author some quick bucks. There was a real over-arching plot driving the first three; here, it just feels like some bad guys were whipped up out of thin air, to provide a reason for bloody battles. The wit is gone, the joyfulness is missing...all the fun bits (the wizards zapping each other, for example) are MIA here. A very pedestrian, boring omnibus. I didn't even bother with "The Silver Spike," as I really didn't want to see Raven turned into an alcoholic mooning after the insipidly-named Darling. No more Cook for me, I'm afraid.
grunkfest on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I will start by stating that the Black Company series would be five star ratings across the board but for the fact that Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen series one-ups Cook in this vein. Nonetheless, the Black Company started the 'hard boiled, soldier-in-the-mud' style fantasy story for me and as such it hold a dear place in my heart. I have read the entire series multiple times; Croaker and The Lady are always close by and ready to appear on my night-stand once again.Highly recommended for anyone who appreciates fantasy a little more 'realistic' and little less flowery.The first three novels of the Black Company are the most 'packaged' as an entire, cohesive story, and I found them to be the best. I would then consider these two to be a natural extension of the first, as an encore performance. The later books become somewhat bogged down in the swamps before finally picking up once again near the end of the series. After the plot line of the first three books comes to a close, the tale seems to make a bit of an abrupt turn and deposit the Company in the South, which is not at all a bad move. With the new setting and significant range of new cast, as well as the unexpected return of a few older characters these two stories feel like a fresh beginning rather than simply more of the same. Also we have a real sense that the Black Company now have a purpose and destiny, which helps to drive the plot forward.Ah yes, before I forget (although I have in reality already forgotten it), The Silver Spike. I'm not sure why this is here, it's uninteresting and irrelevant. That is all.
RRLevering on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was really excited when I found out the Black Company storyline continued. I really enjoyed the personal writing style, wit, and perspective Cook put into the first three books. Unfortunately, this trilogy was very disappointing. The first two books continue the main Croaker storyline. The first was reasonable - it had decent elements of intrigue, travel, new places and characters, and continued romantic tension between Lady and Croaker. It had hints of ennui, but I was able to look past it with the momentum of the first trilogy still on my mind.By the second, however, I started to get truly bored. Having old characters come back to life is a weak premise. Any author worth his salt should be able to create newer, just as interesting characters and thread them into the world like the old ones. Plus, they weren't even developed any further, they were just generic adversaries like they were before. So I started to feel like Cook was just rehashing the same battle and conflict over and over again. He kept the couple characters he liked and then created and killed new characters before you could understand them well. This is awful and a quick way to make the story stale. The only thing saving it was the Lady-Croaker reunion thread, which while cute is not exactly Cook's forte in style.Then we get to the third book. This book was a joke; at times I seriously wondered if he was just playing with his readers. The new characters were unrelatable and boring. They weren't evil, they weren't good, they were just there. I didn't care a whit what happened to them. And the old characters became total one-sided mockeries of everything they had been. They had no depth, we always knew how they would respond, and they seemed to have very little purpose in life. And the ending just topped it all with complete pointlessness, both in character resolution and in plot resolution. I don't mind randomness. I love when main characters randomly die in Erickson or Martin, but the pointlessness of a non-epic death or a failed attempt is usually made somewhat tragic. Cook just left it pointless.The world that Cook created has so many untold stories and hidden wonders that he could constantly tap to keep things fresh and the books interesting. For instance, the entire history of Lady and the Taken which is hinted at but could really flesh out some of these books. Why he instead chooses to rehash the same battles and pointless outcomes is way beyond this humble reader.
patrickgarson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Glen Cook continues his Black Company series in this omnibus edition of the next three books. Whilst enjoyable enough, it's fairly obvious that Cook did not initially intend to extend the series, and two of the books in particular lack the spark that made the first three so groundbreaking and enjoyable.Surgeon-turn-Captain Croaker is heading south with the few soldiers left after the Black Company's trials in the north. But before they reach the almost-fabled city of Khatovarr - and the origins of the Black Company - they find themselves mired in a local conflict. The third book (in my opinion the strongest) follows up the struggles of Lady and those left behind in the North.It's quite obvious from the outset that Cook never expected to extend the original trilogy, and thus some hasty ret-conning ensues. Characters meant to stay dead are brought back to life, lost powers are restored, and the series takes a right-angled turn. The plot is also extended; these books are not like the tightly paced, self-contained and structured novels that wowed me so much last year. Cook moves into more typical fantasy territory, replete with gods and apocalyptic overtones; a bird's eye view replaces the more ground-level view and the ambiguous take on "good" and "evil" that made the first three books so progressive is largely missing. The Silver Spike (the third novel) regains much of this, but unfortunately the first two books feel largely like treading water.This is not to say it's a total loss. Cook's prose is always enjoyable, and his dialogue and characters remain a treat. It's just a shame that coming off such a high, The Books of The South neither push Cook's talents further, nor continue the same high standard of the first three.
macha on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
this trilogy is written better, but it has a desultory feel, mostly because the company itself has fallen apart. time to quit on this series, i'm thinking.
AHS-Wolfy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The remnants of the Black Company, led by Croaker, are heading southwards. Lady is now a fully fledged member and the Company is picking up new recruits as it moves. Croaker is determined to head on down to Khatovar which, rumour has it, is the origin of the original Black Company so it will be good to see where it all began. On the way they get conjoined into a local conflict as there's no way of going around to get where they want to go. Some familiar faces turn up as adversaries most of which were left for dead in previous encounters.That campaign takes up the first two books of this collection and feels very much like a rehash of the previous stories collected in [The Chronicles of the Black Company] which I'd read a couple of years ago. Glad I'd put some distance between the books.The third story takes a diversion in following those that were left behind when some good-for-nothings decide it might be a good idea to steal [The Silver Spike] which contains the essences of The Dominator and sell it to the highest bidder. The Limper is resurrected in this one and Raven chases after him while he goes after Lady. Bomanz also feels the disturbance in the natural order of things and goes off to fetch Darling and bring the forces of the Tree God into the fray.The tales still have a part of what made the first collection so good about them only suffering in the freshness but there are still moments to really get your teeth into in all three of these stories. With that in mind I will pick up the next collection at some point.
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If you have not read this series you are missing out. As a large series goes start to finish it is an awesome read. Great characters and you become invested in them. Add this to your series to read!!
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