The seventh novel in Glen Cook’s Black Company series, ‘She is the Darkness’, picks right up where ‘Bleak Seasons’ left off. If you’re reading it from the omnibus, it’s just a flip of a page, and you can convince yourself you’re reading one big book. That sometimes makes it hard to review, because a) it’s a continuing story and b) there wasn't ever any time between reading to separate one story from another.
She is the Darkness is the battle for Overlook, against Longshadow, the Howler and Mogaba. We’re not jumping around in time like we were in the last book, but Murgen still has the ability to go see through time what happened here and what happened there. It’s a valuable resource for the Black Company Annalist, because it means he can go get all the information he needs to write a complete account of the Black Company’s trials.
It also means we get to see everything that is going on in a world where multiple enemies are working on different fronts, and the Old Man, Croaker, has to try and guess all their moves.
Cook writes with the same gritty realism we’ve come to love by this stage, but this book doesn’t deliver as much despair as previous volumes. There is a lot of angst for Murgen as he deals with secrets revealed and his mounting responsibilities, but similarly the action hikes up a notch as the Black Company and their army moves through the Pass and on to Overlook.
This is the second book of The Glittering Stone segment of Cook’s Black Company novels, and as such it’s very much a book that moves the story along. What you would have imagined to have been major landmarks are reached and passed by with very little commotion in favour of further goals that become apparent as you read. We reach a climax and then walk straight on by to somewhere else.
I actually really enjoy that aspect of Cook’s writing. Reading a book that finishes on the climax you predicted can become a little … well, predictable. Having an author circumvent those expectations is refreshing, and taking the focus away from blood and death is always appealing in a world here some fantasy authors think all they have to do is set a thousand orcs against a thousand humans and you’ve got a story.
Yes, you probably want to have read all he books prior to reading this one. But when you get here, you are definitely going to enjoy yourself.
Review by Joshua S Hill
8.5/10 from 1 reviews
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