When you read a second book of a series, it’s really the do-or-die book. It’ll either be great, draw you in and promise you that they’ll all be of a similar quality or higher, or it will be less than the original and suggest you shouldn’t pick up the third.
There is no such problem with Shadows Linger, the second book in Glen Cook’s ongoing series, the Black Company. Taking straight off from where we were left at the end of the first book, the Black Company are being dragged all over the world at the whim of the Lady. Why? Because they are the best, and they get the job done.
Unlike the first book, however, this story is not told 100% from Croaker’s perspective, which in my mind is upsetting but allowable considering what Cook obviously wanted to do.
The majority of the story is told in a city called Juniper, and once again delves deep into the darkness of the human soul. Acts of horrible villainy take place by characters that at the heart of it all, are not really evil. They are either working for a greater good, or simply hard done by and with nowhere else to go. It is at times horrifying and captivating to watch the selling of bodies, the drop into murder, and the thoughts that get our characters there.
The Black Company, first in dribs and drabs, are called into Juniper to help the Lady and her remaining four Taken eliminate a possible threat by the Dominator, the Lady’s once husband-now buried nemesis. It is a brilliant idea, cleverly written, and once again with that deep look into the human psyche that makes Cook stand out from the pack.
Steven Erikson described Cook’s writing thus;
“He brought the story down to a human level, dispensing with the cliché archetypes of princes, kings, and evil sorcerers. Reading his stuff was like reading Vietnam War fiction on peyote.”
It’s entirely correct. Not only does Cook bring it down to the human level, where we can get on board and understand the motivations of the characters, but he brings the human level down and down, and still keeps our understanding.
Shadows Linger is a worthy follow up to Cook’s first entrance into his Black Company series, and well worth the read. It’s especially good if you get the first omnibus, which collects the first three books of the series together. You’ll want to read Cook, I guarantee you.
Review by Joshua S Hill
9/10 from 1 reviews
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