Shadow Games by Glen Cook
Did you know, not everyone understands intrinsically what ‘Vietnam war fiction on peyote’ describes. That’s how Glen Cook’s Black Company novels are so often described as, thanks to a quote made by Steven Erikson of Cook’s writing. I was asked recently to explain just what that means, and here’s what I came up with:
Glen Cook writes novels which don’t focus on the leaders and warlords, but on the ground-level men and women fighting the war. His writing is blunt, efficient, and above all, it is gritty.
The (theoretically) fourth book of the Black Company series picks up as Croaker leads the very last few surviving members of the Black Company south, in their hopes to reach Khatovar and return the Annals of the Black Company, fulfilling an oath made by the very first annalist of the Company.
And they travel south.
And south some more.
And finally they reach somewhere which ends up requiring them to stay in one spot for an extended period of time, train up a pacifist nation to fight off some mildly familiar villains and suffer Glen Cook’s penchant for realistic battle and death.
That’s one of the things that I love about Glen Cook’s work, and makes my own writing feel somewhat inadequate; it’s realism.
Glen Cook is said to have served in the Vietnam War, and you’d really get that feeling from reading his work. There is a connection to the dirt on which the characters tread and a feeling of pain when the characters are hurt or encounter an obstacle. You can feel it. You’re there. Cook really makes you experience the horror and the mind-numbing ease of death with special care.
But Cook’s work is not recommended simply because of the realism his story and action portrays. The characters you are involved with are stunningly deep, three-dimensional and important. You not only want them to survive, to see their goals reached and their lives eased, but you start living vicariously through them as well. You want what they want and they want what you want.
Shadow Games left me feeling (apart from numb at my inability to write as well as Cook) a deep attachment to Croaker and Lady. They strike me as someone I know, if not as myself and my own partner. I can relate to what they endure, feel, and do. I think that’s one of this books greatest strong points; the ability to leave the reader on the page, rather than sitting in a chair or on the train.
This Shadow Games book review was written by Joshua S Hill
All reviews for: Chronicles of the Black Company
The Silver Spike
Chronicles of the Black Company: Barrowlands, Book 1
...embedded in the trunk of the scion of the godtree, it contains the essence of the maddest of the Ten Who Were Taken...The Dominator. Defeated by the Lady and cast from t...
The Black Company
Chronicles of the Black Company: Books of the North, Book 1
Darkness wars with darkness as the hard-bitten men of the Black Company take their pay and do what they must. They bury their doubts with their dead. Then comes the prophec...
Chronicles of the Black Company: Books of the North, Book 2
Mercenary soldiers in the service of the Lady, the Black Company stands against the rebels of the White Rose. They are tough men, proud of honoring their contracts. The Lad...
The White Rose
Chronicles of the Black Company: Books of the North, Book 3
She is the last hope of good in the war against the evil sorceress known as the Lady. From a secret base on the Plains of Fear, where even the Lady hesitates to go, the Bla...
Chronicles of the Black Company: Books of the South, Book 1
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 K...
Dreams of Steel
Chronicles of the Black Company: Books of the South, Book 2
After the Company's defeat at Dejagore, Lady, one of the few survivors, sets out to avenge herself and the Company against the Shadowmasters, and she joins forces with ...
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