If you are basing your decision to read this book from the movie by the same name...don't. The book is a different animal entirely. Personally, I like...moreIf you are basing your decision to read this book from the movie by the same name...don't. The book is a different animal entirely. Personally, I liked the movie, but while there are enough names and events in common to go by the same name, they are really different genres altogether.
On the surface, the book is a science fiction novel. Soldiers fight in armored suits against a race of bug-like creatures in outer space. In reality, all of that is really the back-story. This book is much more of a discussion of military mindsets, tactics, and theories. To be honest, it would probably be easier for me to place it on the "philosophy" shelf.
The book follows Johnny Rico as he makes his decision to become a soldier and then progresses throughout his career. There are a few battles here and there, but they are short and in the periphery. The story really evolves around the teachings that Johnny receives from fellow soldiers and instructors. There are dissertations regarding the purpose of war, the history of conflict, and the failure of politics. Johnny is taught different things throughout his career from boot camp all the way up to Officer Candidate School.
In the end, that battles aren't the purpose of the book. The political and military doctrine is the central theme of the story. Personally, I thought it was terrific. It's a great read.(less)
While reading this book, I kept going back and forth between loving it and hating it. My rating could have fallen anywhere between 1 star and 5. Fortu...moreWhile reading this book, I kept going back and forth between loving it and hating it. My rating could have fallen anywhere between 1 star and 5. Fortunately, the ending was probably the best part, so when I finally put the book down, it was with a good feeling.
We'll start with the good parts. Like the first two books, the writing is superb. The sentense flow extremely well, the world is rich and complex, and the characters are deep and complicated. The feelings you have for each character is exactly what Glen Cook wants you to feel, whether it's good, bad, or somewhere in the middle. It's just extremely hard to put the book down at times.
On the negative side, Cook also continued his tradition of not over-explaining certain things. While this is great at certain times, it also becomes incredibly frustrating. Throughout the first two books, there were times when I felt like I just had the slightest grasp on what was happening. This book is much worse in that regard. Throughout the first half of the book, there is a series of flashbacks and side stories. The problem is that you're never told that they are flashbacks and side stories. You eventually figure it out, but until then, you're grasping, just trying to figure out how things fit together. Very little of it makes sense. In addition there are a couple characters (not necessarily major, but interesting nonetheless) that are never fully understood. Something happens to one that is not satisfactorily explained and is not resolved by the end of the book. I was forced to just push the "I Believe" button and move on because it was obvious that I would never understand what was going on with that regard.
In the end, I decided on 4 stars, which feels about right. The story is very good, and the ending is awesome. The book isn't without its faults, but if you've already read the first two and enjoyed them, you'll get a kick out of this one as well. I will say that I will probably read the rest of the Black Company books at some point, but I might need to take a break from Glen Cook for awhile.(less)
It had been 7 years since the end of the first book, and the Black Company is still in the service of the Lady. They have become her favorite tool and...moreIt had been 7 years since the end of the first book, and the Black Company is still in the service of the Lady. They have become her favorite tool and are used to eradicate the rebel resistance wherever it is found. Raven is still on the run with Darling as well. When fate brings everyone back together in a town called Juniper where a strange castle is taking shape, old alliances break and reform as the situation dictates.
With this second book, Glen Cook continues the Black Company saga. His writing is superb, and the characters continue to be incredibly entertaining. The story is enthralling, and it's never clear what will happen next. He continues to write under the idea that good and bad depend entirely on your view point.
Like the first book, Cook does not mess around with back stories or flashbacks. He jumps right into the action. This is great because I hate series where the author takes chapters to reintroduce characters that you already know. I would recommend reading the books in quick succession though. If you forgot any of the major plot points from the first book, you may be a little lost.
If there was one thing that I didn't like about this book, it would be that there are a few anti-climactic moments towards the end. It almost seemed like he was running out of time, so he decided to just cut out a few characters without any real story. Cook spends so much time on minor issues in the beginning that the ending actually left me a little unsatisfied. My hope is that those moments weren't really complete and they will be reborn in the 3rd book, but I don't know if that will happen.
Great book. If you like your fantasy a little darker and more human, this series is for you.(less)
If you like your fantasy a little darker, this is a terrific book. The Black Company is a mercenary group that always tries to honor its contracts no...moreIf you like your fantasy a little darker, this is a terrific book. The Black Company is a mercenary group that always tries to honor its contracts no matter how immoral that may seem. They have just been hired by the largest source of evil in existence in order to squash a rebellion. They carry out their orders to the best of their abilities no matter what they may be.
Be prepared for the fact that Cook does not mess around with an introduction, and he doesn't overly explain some things. There are times when large stretches of time go past between chapters, and he doesn't waste time explaining what happened during that time. Therefore, there are times when you may not be exactly sure what is going on. A map would also be incredibly helpful at times, but I'm sure you could find one online if you looked hard enough.
With all that being said, this is a terrific start to the trilogy. It's the type of fantasy where the definition of evil depends on where you stand. If you are a fan of Joe Abercrombie, it's easy to see that he may have been inspired by this series. While it's always dangerous to judge a trilogy on the first book, this one is off to a great start.(less)
This book was very difficult to read. It's a short book, and should have been a very quick read, but it couldn't maintain my attention for very long.
T...moreThis book was very difficult to read. It's a short book, and should have been a very quick read, but it couldn't maintain my attention for very long.
The story itself has promise, but the writing is lacking. The characters are never developed to the point that I really care about them, and the story does not flow very well. Overall, the book just wasn't very good.(less)
I definitely think that I read this book too late in life. It's richly written and takes place in a well defined world. The characters are great, the...moreI definitely think that I read this book too late in life. It's richly written and takes place in a well defined world. The characters are great, the writing flows very well, and it's a fairly quick read.
Unfortunately (for me), it was certainly written for a young adult/teenager type of audience. It was very difficult for me to fully get into the book because of that. When I read fantasy, I like authors like George Martin and Joseph Abercrombie where the battles are epic, good guys die, and the whole story feels more real.
Redwall is a pleasant diversion from those type of books, and I'm glad that I read it, but I would certainly recommend it more for young adults and teenagers.(less)
This book reminded me somewhat of any episode of Seinfeld. There wasn't really much of a point, but it was still amusing.
It's somewhat like the author...moreThis book reminded me somewhat of any episode of Seinfeld. There wasn't really much of a point, but it was still amusing.
It's somewhat like the author, Walter Moers, recorded the kind of stories that I would make up to entertain the kids, wrote them down, inserted a blue bear as the main character, and then strung them all together. Bluebear's adventures are continuous and varied, and usually, entertaining. It's written as a combination between a book for older children and a book for adults with a light heart.
The book really served as sort of a background music. It never gets too tense, but it never gets too boring. It's a good book to read before bed if you don't want to get too worked up. It's a great book to use as a back-up while you're reading other books or waiting for one of your favorites to be released. You can set it down for weeks at a time and easily come back to it without missing a beat. It is a surprisingly quick read for a 700 page book, and I could see myself reading nightly installments of this to my kids when they're around the age of 8.
With all the positive things, I was certainly ready for the book to end. It does start to get old after awhile, and it's hard to get truly attached to any of the characters.
Overall, it was a good book, a solid 3 stars (borderline 4). I would recommend at least starting it. If you don't enjoy it after the first 100 pages or so, then you probably shouldn't finish it because the premise and style stays the same throughout. I did find it very entertaining though.(less)