Shadow Games by Glen Cook

(9.4/10) Cook's writing is blunt, efficient, and above all, it is gritty.

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.

Review by

15+

Shadow Games reader reviews

9.4/10 from 1 reviews

Write a reader review

There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?

Your rating out of 10

All reviews for Glen Cook's Chronicles of the Black Company series

Port of Shadows

Chronicles of the Black Company written by Glen Cook

The soldiers of the Black Company don't ask questions, they get paid. But being "The Lady's favored" is attracting the wrong kind of attention and has put [...]

Published: 2018

Our rating: 6.0 | positive reader reviews

15+

The Silver Spike

Chronicles of the Black Company: Barrowlands, Book 1 written by Glen Cook

...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 [...]

Published: 1989

Our rating: 9.2 | positive reader reviews

15+

The Black Company

Chronicles of the Black Company: Books of the North, Book 1 written by Glen Cook

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 [...]

Published: 1984

Our rating: 9.0 | positive reader reviews

15+

Shadows Linger

Chronicles of the Black Company: Books of the North, Book 2 written by Glen Cook

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 [...]

Published: 1984

Our rating: 9.0 | positive reader reviews

15+

The White Rose

Chronicles of the Black Company: Books of the North, Book 3 written by Glen Cook

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 [...]

Published: 1985

Our rating: 9.3 | positive reader reviews

15+

Shadow Games

Chronicles of the Black Company: Books of the South, Book 1 written by Glen Cook

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 [...]

Published: 1989

Our rating: 9.4 | positive reader reviews

15+

Dreams of Steel

Chronicles of the Black Company: Books of the South, Book 2 written by Glen Cook

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 [...]

Published: 1990

Our rating: 9.4 | positive reader reviews

15+

More Glen Cook reviews

Bleak Seasons

by Glen Cook

Having risked their lives and souls to capture the fortress of Stormgard, a band of weary soldiers known as the Company witnesses their commander's descent into madness [...]

Series: Books of the Glittering Stone
Published: 0000

Score: 85

Our rating: 8.5 | 0 positive reader reviews

15+

She is the Darkness

by Glen Cook

The tale again comes to us from the pen of Murgen, Annalist and Standard Bearer of the Black Company, whose developing powers of travel through space and time give him a pe [...]

Series: Books of the Glittering Stone
Published: 1997

Score: 85

Our rating: 8.5 | 0 positive reader reviews

15+

Water Sleeps

by Glen Cook

Narrated by Sleepy, the book continues the ever-evolving nature of the Annalist by passing the role on to yet another young, inexperienced character. But this time, and unl [...]

Series: Books of the Glittering Stone
Published: 2000

Score: 85

Our rating: 8.5 | 0 positive reader reviews

15+

Books you may also enjoy

The Judging Eye

by R Scott Bakker

The Three Seas are on the march under the leadership of Anasûrimbor Khellus. Khellus has spent these last twenty years conquering the various nations and forming the [...]

Series: The Aspect Emperor: Book 1
Published: 2009

Score: 101

Our rating: 10.0 | 1 positive reader reviews

15+

Once Walked With Gods

by James Barclay

The elves have fled to Calius, seeking to escape the overwhelming power of the demonic Garonin. A desperate last stand in their own dimension saved the race, at the cost of [...]

Series: Elves Trilogy: Book 1
Published: 2010

Score: 97

Our rating: 9.7 | 0 positive reader reviews

15+

Breach Zone

by Myke Cole

The Great Reawakening has left Latent people with a stark choice: either use their newfound magical powers in the service of the government, or choose the path of the Selfe [...]

Series: Shadow Ops series: Book 3
Published: 2014

Score: 95

Our rating: 9.5 | 0 positive reader reviews

15+

The Divine Cities Trilogy

by Robert Jackson Bennett

A special omnibus edition, collecting all three books of Robert Jackson Bennett’s acclaimed Divine Cities trilogy in a single volume. &nbs [...]

Series: The Divine Cities trilogy #1 - #3
Published: 2018

Score: 95

Our rating: 9.5 | 0 positive reader reviews

15+