When sorcerers and demigods go to war, those wars are fought by mercenaries, "dog soldiers", grunts in the trenches. And the stories of those soldiers are the stories of Glen Cook's hugely popular Black Company novels. If the Joseph Heller of Catch-22 were to tell the story of The Lord of the Rings, it might read like the Black Company books. There is nothing else in fantasy like them.
Now, at last, Cook brings the Glittering Stone cycle within the Black Company series to an end... but an end with many other tales left to tell.
As Soldiers Live opens, Croaker is military dictator of all the Taglias, and no Black Company member has died in battle for four years. Croaker figures it can't last. He's right.
For, of course, many of the Company's old adversaries are still around. Narayan Singh and his adopted daughter - actually the offspring of Croaker and the Lady - hope to bring about the apocalyptic Year of the Skulls. Other old enemies like Shadowcatcher, Longshadow, and Howler are also ready to do the Company harm. And much of the Company is still recovering from the 15 years many of them spent in a stasis field.
Then a report arrives of an evil spirit, a forvalaka, that has taken over one of their old enemies. It attacks them at a shadowgate - setting off a chain of events that will bring the Company to the edge of apocalypse and, as usual, several steps beyond.
Glen Cook is the leading modern writer of epic fantasy noir, and Soldiers Live is Cook at his best. None of his legion of fans will want to miss it.
"Dark and surprising, Cook's latest is free of pretension, but rich in characters and world building." (Publishers Weekly)
"The author's wry wit and flair for understatement add a level of realism uncommon to the fantasy genre." (Library Journal)
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Finally, Croaker & The Black Company Returns!!!
The return of Croaker as annalist of The Black Company and also Marc Vietor as narrator.
I soldiered through the last four books just to get to this one, because I knew The Black Company that I fell in love with in the first four books would finally return.
It was Croaker by far. His annals/perspective of The Black Company, to me, is why I fell in love with the series in the first place.
Marc Vietor, to me, is the best narrator of the series. He adds grittiness to The Black Company that the other narrators of the series could not match. His portrayal of Croaker is simply perfect.
I found the phrase: "Soldiers live..." uttered throughout the book by Croaker, to be deeply profound. And it particularly moved me when Croaker uttered it for the last time: "Soldiers live and wonder why."
I now understand why Glen Cook wrote the last four books with different annalists. I think it was to give this well seasoned version of Croaker more flavor to contrast the younger Croaker from the earlier books.
Must listen for fantasy fan