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The Tower of Fear

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  612 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews

The City of Qushmarrah is uneasy under the rule of the Herodians short, balding men whose armies would never have conquered the city had not the great and evil wizard Narkar been killed and sealed in his citadel; had not the savage nomad Datars turned coat and sided with the invaders; had not some traitor opened the fortress to them.

Not many would welcome the return of the

Paperback, 384 pages
Published June 15th 1991 by Tor Books (first published August 1989)
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Oct 03, 2016 Evgeny rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Review updated on October 2, 2016.

This is a buddy read with my fellow die-hard Glen Cook fans: Choko, Eilonwy, and Sarah.

A city-state of Qushmarrah used to be under a ruthless rule of an evil wizard Narkar until the day it was conquered by Herodians - a rival nation. Herodians would not have a chance against Narkar, but at exactly the moment of their attack an assassin struck a death blow against the mighty wizard. His wife managed to froze the two in time right at that moment.

And so Herodians
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
We are the Reunited and Slightly Indestructible Black Company Mercenaries Oh and By the Way Glen Cook is our God Buddy Read (WatRaSIBCMOaBtWGCioGBR) with Evgeny, Choko and Eilonwy

Friendly warning: clear your schedule and grab a snack. I don't have much to say about this book, so this crappy non review will very logically be totally pointless. And never-ending. Yeah, that too. You're welcome.

Okay, I think I need to devise a Special Glen Cook Rating System (SGCRS) here. I mean, compared to the k
Sep 29, 2016 Choko rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-grim
*** 4.25 ***

A buddy read with the Glen Cook aficionados at BB&B!!! Just so we can remember how a master weaves a story!

I do not know how GC does it! He is so different from the majority of Fantasy writers out there, his writing so deceptively simple, and his storytelling above and beyond anything I can qualify!!! He blows me away every time and the only complaint I have with this book - it was not enough!!! I needed more! It took a while to get into the world, which as in all of his writin

Another great read from Glen Cook! I'm not sure I can write a summary for this, since the story is crazy complex and I spent most of the book being slightly confused at the same time as being completely hooked.

The story takes place in Qushmarrah, a seaside desert city where three factions struggle for control -- the natives, the Herodians, and the Dartars. The book has a somewhat Biblical feel, as the Qushmarrahans seem Semitic, the invading Herodians seem Roman, and the Dartars are a tribe who
William M.
Jun 29, 2011 William M. rated it it was amazing

My first experience with dark fantasy author Glen Cook could not have been more enjoyable. I always look for a good story, solid technical writing that exudes confidence, a strong vocabulary with a unique style, believable and original characters, rich atmosphere, and an overall consistency from beginning to end. It is rare for a writer to have strengths in most of these categories. Glen Cook has them all.

This book is crafted masterfully like the construction of a champion chess ga
Joe Eames
Mar 26, 2012 Joe Eames rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite novel of all time, followed closely by Cook's "The Silver Spike" (which you shouldn't read until after reading the first 3 black company books). I must have read The Tower of Fear about 15 times now. Each time I'm amazed by what a master he is, and why I had such a hard time with the typical formulaic fantasy books of "group of adventurers goes off to find artifact X".

The gray characters, the interweaving plots, the blindsiding developments...all are truly amazing. Using an a
Chris Hawks
Nov 29, 2010 Chris Hawks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, reviewed
Following a slow-ish start, this book has completely blown me away. I love Cook's Black Company stuff (the only other Cook books that I've read) and this might be even better. Cook shows that he's the master of the "gray" character, filling the book with multiple, overlapping POVs from all factions involved. Barring one or two characters who are just plain jerks, there are no real bad guys here; just men and women doing what they feel they need to for a cause that they feel is just.

The plot revo
Aug 21, 2008 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Enthusiasts of Gritty Fantasy
This book reminded me that Glen Cook is a master. He hits the story hard from 4 different directions - all conflicting groups of players and all likeable to some degree. In the end, you're left wondering who you should be routing for, if anyone. Even the most dispicable of characters are likeable in some ways. Very hard to put down. One of his best efforts to date.
by Ax
Oct 05, 2016 by Ax rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Ahimè unico romanzo fantasy tradotto di Cook, vive di uno stile asciutto, essenziale, che non regala nulla al lettore, nemmeno il più piccolo aiuto. La storia viene mostrata mentre accade, con repentini cambi di prospettive ogni poche pagine che si incastrano al disegno generale, regalando al lettore il compito di saldarne la forma.
Ci si trova direttamente nel mezzo delle situazioni, sono esse a parlare e non l'autore. All'inizio si può accusare il colpo, ma se ci si lascia catturare d
Mar 10, 2008 Eric rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Tower of Fear is a novel by Glen Cook. It is set in a city ruled by an invader. It was won from a tyrant who ruled the land with an iron fist.

The book is a complicated interweaving of plots and plans. The occupier, the Resistance, the supporters of the old regime, the mercenary tools of the invader, and the common people of the city are all represented. As is usual for Cook, it is impossible to pick a side and label them The Good Guys, though there are are a few people who are definitely not.

Francesco Manno

The tower of darkness is a book original and unusual, because, unlike many other novels of sword and sorcery, the focus is not placed on enterprises of some hero wiry, but the socio-political context inherent in the occupation of a given territory (approaching the saga Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson).
The action and magic in this novel are secondary. Glen Cook propels us into an imaginary world that has significant similarities with the Middle
Jun 22, 2013 Andrew rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Literary omnivores with an unquenchable thirst for more fantasy
I only read it because I mistook Glen Cook for Monte Cook, he of TSR fame, and G.Cook's other work was well-received.

Quite formulaic and traditional, it's a standard rendition of the average man caught up in epic events. The clash of cultures works well, and the simmering stew-pot of lethal politics works well, marred only by some improbable romance and questionably-founded character motivations.

I have to admit my interest slackened towards the end as the political and power stalemate finally br
Sep 01, 2009 Jonathan rated it it was amazing
The city is full of complex and opposing forces.

A study in tragedy from a certain point of view. The constantly wrong headed decisions of a woman passionately in love with her dead husband, a man widely loathed by almost every other character in the book, lead to her final loss of everything he owned and stood for.

Alternatively, the happy triumph of liberty and freedom of the city from the forces of oppression, both of the tyrant and his conquerors.

Alternatively, the hard headed Realpolitik of d
Ryan Gagne
The Tower of Fear begins with a war’s conclusion and ends with the seeds of wars’ beginnings. The middle bits are the stories of the lives of players and pieces. The stories begin as separate balls of yarn,and through the process of the telling,these stories knit themselves into a tight and cozy Story. Each chapter brings these separate threads closer and closer and tighter and tighter together. The Tower of Fear accelerates; what begins with a walking pace ends at a full sprint.

This is the firs
Lyndol Fast
Sep 25, 2014 Lyndol Fast rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-own
On the whole, not my favourite novel from Glen Cook. That means this is book is only 'very good' as opposed to extraordinary. It is well written and very rich for a standalone. My reasons for detracting slightly are mostly stylistic - I've come to expect an epic conflict with overarching gods or chess masters playing a conflict out with the story following said gods' pawns (black company, the swordbearer). This book did keep Cook's gritty, down to earth feel in a setting I hadn't seen from him ...more
Jeremy Preacher
Jan 05, 2011 Jeremy Preacher rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I can see how this guy's military fiction would work well. He's not all that deft at relationships or dialogue, but quite good at setting up characters with compelling motivations and putting them in dynamic situations. This one was a not super easy to get into, but with a little patience it turned into a nice tense political novel. I did appreciate the handling of the antihero-assassin character - not many folks can handle that balance without making the character either completely unlikeable ...more
Jun 27, 2015 Krazykiwi rated it liked it
Very Cook in the typically grey morality. I liked it well enough, but the plot is very twisty and there are approximately 427 characters to keep track of, some with multiple names depending who's talking to them, and others with multiple names because they are playing shadow games between factions.

I actually found when I stopped worrying too much about the characters and just concentrated on keeping track of the plot, I did a lot better.

I think I need to let this one settle a little, and then r
Apr 16, 2012 Nathan rated it it was amazing
Various individuals and factions jockey for position (or just try to live their lives) in a city that was conquered some years before. This book has a fantastic oppressive mood hanging over the city and its residents (and resident aliens) and Cook has not, in my view, written anything tighter (though it must be said it loosens just a touch towards the end. The reader is just thrown into the pot, which just simmers away. Great stuff. Rated M for violence, supernatural themes and moderate ...more
Larry Kenney
I really wish I had a 3.5 stars rating for this. The start of the book took a while for me to get through. Figuring out all the terms and what was going on made it hard to get into. However, once the plot really got rolling, I couldn't put this book down. So I';d say the first 1/4-1/3 of the book is a 2, and the rest is a 4 for sure.

I really enjoyed the political intrigue as well as all of the interplay of the plots and schemes of the various factions and how they call came together.

Another soli
Troy Taylor
Jan 25, 2015 Troy Taylor rated it really liked it
Even with a cast list of the Players in the Many-Faced Game provided in the beginning, this novel requires an effort to keep track of the many characters in this novel. But once the characters start to take shape, this novel becomes gold. Glen Cook waves a tale of near eastern (middle eastern) fantasy about a city, Qushmarrah, that comes alive through its inhabitants many machinations. The ending is satisfying and believable.
Jun 27, 2011 Christine rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I got to page 76 and had to give up. This saddens me since the premise is good; I would love to see this story done well. The distraction in this book is the characters; the author introduces far too many too quickly with names too similar for the reader to keep track. I spent most of my time flipping back to to try to figure out what character belonged to what faction. A review can be seen on my blog,
Jun 18, 2013 Alexi rated it it was amazing
This story weaves together the the story of at least 4 opposing factions plot to take control of the City of Qushmarrah. Each factions is led by cunning and capable leaders with competent people with believable motivations. Loved it. Similar to one of Glen's sci-fi/spacve opera books, "The Dragon never sleeps" which similarly manages to weave together a web of interleaving plots and chracters.
Oct 12, 2016 Liam rated it liked it
Intriguing original fantasy that avoids all the boring tropes the genre is mired in, but the story is marred by too many characters and too much political intrigue. Definitely want to read more of Cook's works as this novel definitely demonstrates a refreshing deftness, and a succinct style that's lacking in fantasy.
Andrew Herbert
May 20, 2015 Andrew Herbert rated it really liked it
Took a little work to get into this novel. I found the number of similar names and range of characters took a while to settle on. It's a compelling read, though. Interesting book. The end left me a little cold, but it was great up to the last 25 pages or so, then got predictable.
Jun 19, 2013 TheDenizen rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
In fewer than 400 pages, Glen Cook remarkably conjures up the huge city of Qushmarrah, rich in detail and contested by three rival groups of soldiers. A fast paced and interesting story of treachery and sorcery, told via several interesting and very human POV characters.
Kenneth Flusche
Aug 02, 2015 Kenneth Flusche rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good mixture of desert war, and witchcraft, live characters who love their children and have a chance to love each other. My mind was odd today as this book could almost be a love story with LOVE being the cause of WAR.
Elizabeth Coleman
Mar 31, 2010 Elizabeth Coleman rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sff
A wonderfully complex book that deals with very realistic characters. He shows a conquered city as the rightly complex place it is, where everyone is capable of acting nobly or shamefully, no matter their side.
Jun 05, 2007 Hokuto rated it it was ok
It's been a long time since I read this so I'm going off very vague memories, but I wasn't much impressed by this book; it was a little exciting at the beginning and some excitement at the end, but I remember nothing of what's in the middle.
Eric Godin
Aug 21, 2015 Eric Godin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book! So much happens for a less than 400 page novel. Luckily, there is a list of characters at the beginning because there are so many names to remember at 1st.
Lots of action, intrigue, plots-within-plots. Highly recommended for fans of high fantasy.
Adon Coya
Apr 01, 2012 Adon Coya rated it really liked it
One of the thickest and tightest plots I have ever read in a single tome. Most modern writers would have expounded in 3-5 tomes. Many characters, thoroughly examined - and a fantastical historical setting vaguely familiar. A must-read!
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Glen Cook was born in New York City, lived in southern Indiana as a small child, then grew up in Northern California. After high school he served in the U.S. Navy and attended the University of Missouri. He worked for General Motors for 33 years, retiring some years ago. He started writing short stories in 7th grade, had several published in a high school literary magazine. He began writing with ...more
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