The White Rose by Glen Cook
Review by Joshua S Hill
Good writing is sometimes extremely difficult to come across. Writing that tears you out from the insides and makes you weep for characters you hardly knew is like looking for a needle in a field of haystacks. Trust me, when you find it, you want to make sure that you read everything from that author that you possibly can, and then you’ll want to start again from the top.
Glen Cook is one of those authors. I both love him and hate him for it.
I know that I’ve come to him late, but sometimes that just makes it all the worse. There is absolutely no convincing myself that I can kidnap the author and have him write the ending of the story the way that I want it written. I’m stuck in his own world of gritty realistic death is free and there’s nothing I can do about it but keep reading in the hopes that someone, anyone that I care about will come out alive.
‘The White Rose’ is the third in Cook’s tales of The Black Company, and it is as good as the first two.
Cook writes with such freedom that I would hazard he was never classically trained, nor would he have wanted to be, because with that freedom comes a different sort of storytelling which is quite spectacular.
I said that Cook writes death as a very easy thing, and, as a Vietnam veteran like Cook would realise, it is. There is rarely the chance for long goodbyes or tear shed embraces before leaving the safety of the bunker and stepping out into the battle. People die. Spines are cracked and bodies broken and there are not always appropriate goodbyes. In short, people die.
The storytelling method used in The White Rose is quite something, and it took me a little while to get used to it and realise exactly what it was.
The characters are, without a doubt, truly brilliant: rounded just enough to let you sink your teeth in without providing you with a psychologist’s manila folder full of their quirks and family history. Croaker is really one of the best protagonists I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading, and his outlook into the world in which he has been thrust is nothing short of enthralling.
Romance is something that can often be done so badly, it will ruin the entire book. In Cook’s case, there is less ‘romance’ and more just humanity coming together at intervals or in circumstances and over time that leaves you remembering your own relationships. There is no wooing or heavy passionate scenes of lovemaking, but in the loss of these somewhat stereotypical examples of ‘romance’ is left an even more heartbreaking and strong sense of relationship.
There is nothing bad that I can say about Cook’s writing. He writes with the sense of purpose and conviction that you would expect from someone who has seen the worst of humanity, and he writes with the sense of hope of the same: out of the ashes, and all of that.
Glen Cook is truly amazing and deserves all the praise that comes his way for the continued trust to reality his writing conveys.
Antonis from Greece
This review reflects my opinion of Glen Cook's writing and the Chronicles of the Black Rose trilogy to the point! This is exactly how I also feel about Cook and I could not have said it better myself. His writing is refreshingly realistic and makes the reader (and his intelligence) feel respected in some unique way. Great author, great books, great review!!
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