Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Chronicles of the Black Company

I just finished ready the Chronicles of the Black Company, which is the first three books of an extended series by Glenn Cook.  It is a dark and grim tale of a mercenary company in a fantasy setting.  There is magic and strange creatures, but no elves, dwarves or other fantasy tropes borrowed from Tolkien or northern European lore.

On one hand the book is a refreshing read.  The 'heroes' are often gray at best, and sometimes no better than the villains.  The plot and story ideas are interesting and not the over cliched story elements found in many fantasy story lines.  There is a unique view of the story from the view of the company historian, which is something this mercenary group puts a high priority on.  From this aspect it was a compelling read.

The not so good was the actual writing.  I found at times the clipped style did not leave me with whatever impression the author had intended.  Some sentence structure was poor, and on many occasions I was forced to reread passages to understand who was speaking due to poorly deployed pronouns.  There were many story threads which simple dead ended with no satisfying conclusion, while other threads which appeared unimportant later arose to be the main story threads.

I have to give this one a neutral rating.  It has some great story ideas to steal for adventuring.  It has some memorable story elements for enjoyment.  Depending on how forgiving you are for the actual craft of writing will significantly alter whether you like or hate this series.

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