Glen Cook was born on the 9th July 1944 and is an American writer of science fiction and fantasy novels.
Cook first began writing in high school, providing the occasional article for the school newspaper. After high school he spent time in the United States Navy before working full time at a General Motors assembly plant. It was while he was at GM that Cook began writing in earnest, producing as many as three books a year. Outside of writing he is an avid stamp collector and enjoys watching the Cardinals play baseball.
Cook's work is known for its realism, Steven Erikson once said that Cook was responsible for single-handedly changing the field of fantasy by removing the stereotypes and cliches that were previously inherant in the genre, replacing them with real, human characters and believable situations. Erikson also went on to say that the Dread Empire trilogy was the biggest influence on his own writing with its grim reality and historical complexity.
Cook was able to call upon his own experiences in the US Navy when writing The Black Company series, making sure that the military characters behaved as they would in real life.
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 and await the reemergence of their ancient gods.
"Glen Cook has the reputation he has today for a reason; he’s a marvellous storyteller with an eye for detail that captures the attention rather than bores it, and focuses the attention down onto ground level where the hardest choices are made. You’ll be exhausted, emotionally drained, and probably really sad, but Bleak Seasons is definitely worth the read." Joshua S Hill, Fantasy Book Review
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.
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 unlike Murgen’s sometimes confusing narrative, Sleepy brings the story back to basics. The story is yet another in the long continuation of the Black Company’s attempts to reach Khatovar, so if you haven’t read the other books, this is not going to be a starting point. In many ways, Glen Cook has written one long story that just happens to be accidentally broken up into book-sized pieces. There is almost no “standalone-ness” to his work, which is not a problem if you are willing to hang around for the lengthy waits between books.
"Water Sleeps is another great addition to one of the hallmarks of fantasy literature." Joshua S Hill
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 a target on their backs--and the Company's historian, Croaker, has the biggest target of all. The one person who was taken into The Lady's Tower and returned unchanged has earned the special interest of the court of sorcerers known as The Ten Who Were Taken. Now, he and the company are being asked to seek the aid of their newest member, Mischievous Rain, to break a rebel army. However, Croaker doesn't trust any of the Taken, especially not ones that look so much like The Lady and her sister...
"While Glen Cook’s contribution to the fantasy genre can never really be overstated, and the thrill of reading another Black Company book remains, Port of Shadows will likely not go down as one of Cook’s better entries. With a more involved editor and a willingness to rely less on previously-published short stories, Port of Shadows could have been a thrilling, captivating, and twisting addition to the series. Instead, it ends up just being mostly confusing and out of place."
In the end, I was really stoked with reading this book. It did leave me wanting a bit more of an epilogue, but that’s just me and my desire to see things fleshed out, never finished, etc. And I’d guess that you could probably pick this book up without having read any of the previous Black Company books, though I don’t know why you’d want to miss out on them.
The Black Company by Glen Cook is the first book of the nine that make up The Black Company series. First published in 1984 this book was responsible for taking the fantasy genre and turning it on its head with his introduction of realistic characters and its complete disregard for fantasy stereotypes and the age-old battle of good versus evil.
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 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.
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.
And I would recommend you read the series. Dreams of Steel is simply another example of Cook’s ability to write a story that doesn’t come anywhere near the grandiose mythic tales of Tolkien and Jordan, while still having all those same elements embedded within the story.