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The Black Company

(The Chronicles of the Black Company #1)

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  45,448 ratings  ·  1,956 reviews
Some feel the Lady, newly risen from centuries in thrall, stands between humankind and evil. Some feel she is evil itself. The hard-bitten men of the Black Company take their pay and do what they must, burying their doubts with their dead. Until the prophesy: The White Rose has been reborn, somewhere, to embody good once more. There must be a way for the Black Company to f ...more
Mass Market Paperback, 319 pages
Published March 15th 1992 by Tor Fantasy (first published May 15th 1984)
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Sarah If you've never read the Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss I highly recommend it. One of the best fantasy series I've ever read!!! …moreIf you've never read the Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss I highly recommend it. One of the best fantasy series I've ever read!!! (less)
Richard There is a RPG supplement for it which might include maps. Amazon sell it. The Black Company Campaign Setting
There is a RPG supplement for it which might include maps. Amazon sell it. The Black Company Campaign Setting

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Average rating 3.91  · 
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Lady Luna. ✨
May 09, 2017 rated it did not like it
DNF @ 48%


"This book is utter pus" - a quote by Lady Luna hater of all things shit.

I'm actually really sad about this DNF, I wanted to love this book and before I even read it, I knew it was going to be a four or five star read because of the reviews on it & that blurb sounds goddamn amazing. I, However, can safely say I was wrong and that I absolutely loathed reading this. I'm sorry I truly tried, however I just didn't care about anything & the writi
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
💀 Buddy reread with the clueless new mercenary recruits over at BB&B. Under the wicked supervision of our Ever-Stalking Black Company Overlord (ESBCO™), of course 💀

And the moral of this reread is :

There is that, yes. Also, my boyfriend Croaker and my girlfriend Lady have been safely stashed away in my High Security Harem for a few decades years now and I think it's high time I discreetly kidnapped some of their fellow mercenaries to keep them company. They have me to keep them, um, entertai
mark monday
May 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
i thought this book was great. a strange kind of modern classic, one that influenced many other fantasy efforts by ushering in the genuine darkness, grittiness, and lack of wonder of the military novel. the writing is direct, unadorned, choppy - a soldier's perspective, i suppose. the novel jumps right in the middle of the action and makes no attempt to help readers out, assuming that they will eventually catch up. experiencing the lack of poetry and of justice, the anonymity of most of the sold ...more
Nov 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Glen Cook is often called the father of grimdark fantasy. This is his most famous series which most definitely helped grimdark to become the dominant sub-genre of the modern fantasy.

A long time ago even way before J.R.R. Tolkien created his classic trilogy most of the fantasy (or what would later be called such) belonged to so-called heroic fantasy. There was a person, or a group of people who had to perform heroic deeds to save the world most of the time; Lord of the Rings firmly falls into th
Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁
Reviewed by: Rabid Reads

I went into the reading of THE BLACK COMPANY by Glen Cook nearly blind. I knew a lot of people didn't like it. I knew it wasn't going to be warm and fuzzy.

But that was pretty much it.

I quickly learned that despite Joe Abercrombie being widely known as "Lord Grimdark," it was Cook who gave birth to the subgenre.

So that's important to know: it it grim and it is dark.

But it's also about brotherhood, about family. It's about upholding some version of a moral code in the mids
Jun 08, 2011 rated it it was ok
Recommended to carol. by: FA
Three stars; ultimately it's just not my kind of book.

As far as plot, it mostly consists of a series of encounters for the Black Company, starting with getting out of their current contract and accepting employment from the Lady. I don't mind this style of plot in my books, but not everyone may enjoy.

The pacing of the story was uneven at best. Mostly the narrative stopped on plot points germane to their particular tasks for the Lady, but occasionally it takes time to linger on company dynamics.
Mayim de Vries
May 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
“There are not self-proclaimed villains, only regiments of self-proclaimed saints. Victorious historians rule where good or evil lies.”

Evil fights the darkness, folks. The Black Company is a grim and jarring read meant for a more mature audience, fast-paced, devoid of extensive descriptions and throwing the reader into deep waters inhabited by hungry and malicious things.

The Black Company is a group of mercenaries offering their services to those who pay well. It has nothing to do with “servin
Jan 14, 2008 rated it did not like it
After 75 pages, I've come to the conclusion that life is too short to waste reading bad books. Positive praise and reviews caused me to bring the book home against my best judgement. The first-person style, lack of character depth, stupid names, inane dialogue and juvenile prose have caused me to abandon the book in frustration. Good thing I read Mary Gentle's Ash: A Secret History before giving up on the military fantasy genre altogether. ...more
Eon ♒Windrunner♒
Jul 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Before Abercrombie… Before Lawrence... Before Martin…

There was Cook.


I loved The Black Company.
It is dark, entertaining and funny with a hint of epic and it kept me enthralled until the end.

It's about a group of people (with a particular set of skills :D) fighting for the employer of the day. These people are not good or bad. They are just people. Some are worse than others, but it’s all about your point of view. I mention this only, because I kept on wondering if I was backing the bad guys her
Apr 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
“No one will sing songs in our memory. We are the last of the Free Companies of Khatovar. Our traditions and memories live only in these Annals. We are our own mourners.”

After only reading the first book in the three-part omnibus edition, I can already tell that Glen Cook is an exceptionally skilled storyteller, and that The Black Company is probably the best war story I have ever read.

Series review from the beginning
Series review from the ending
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘

DNF 42%. Shoot me, because it seemed that The Black Company was written for me :

Morally ambiguous Plain bad heroes whose only rules are brotherhood's related and who don't shy away from almost any deed (they draw the line at killing children, but everything else is implicitly accepted - I'll let you think about what resides into their candid brains, haha). You gotta love antiheroes : when you start smiling because Aww, they didn't kill the kid, after all! you know that you're up for some aw
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Back to the Books)
It’s amazing how well military and fantasy seemed to mesh in this story. The Black Company is an elite mercenary unit that holds two values sacred: Committing fully to any commission they take on, and watching out for their fellow members, their brothers in the unit. This unit consists of hardened fighting men, some of whom happen to be wizards, and our narrator, Croaker, who is the annalist (records the history of the unit) and the doctor of the unit.

The world they live in is plagued by war bet
Layla ✷ Praise the sun ✷
Mar 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
A military fantasy book from a Vietnam war veteran and the father of grimdark.

The writing takes some getting used to in the beginning as you are thrown into the world with no idea whatsoever of what is happening and you have to figure it all out on your own while you continue reading.
There is no hand-holding and at times I felt like I was watching a David Lynch movie all over again in the sense that I wondered WHAT THE FAKK IS GOING ON.

We abjure labels. We fight for money and an indefinabl
Robin (Bridge Four)
Buddy read with my fellow Mercinaries at Buddies Books and Baubles who kept me on track. Thank you.


Have you ever gone into a book blind and been so surprised you look again to see if you picked up the right book? That was me, now I’m not entirely sure why but I thought this was about a group of guys on a ship sailing the open seas *shrugs*. So I was really surprised when it is about a band of soldiers for hire, more surprised when there were Wizards in that band and floored when they started tal
Dec 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: to-review, 2015
Quick review: Think Malazan Book of the Fallen, but focusing only on the marines. Sounds good right?

Especially given the fact that MBotF is one of my all-time favorite series and the marines were always my favorite parts. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I enjoyed this more, but I can't help but make the comparison and think it a good one. Don't ask me how my mind works, I obviously don't have a clue.

The comparison also makes sense because this series was influential on Erikson's MBotF. Th
I started Black Company with such high hopes. I bought the book back in the '80's when I first started digging into fantasy, but for some reason, never got to it. At one point or another, I know I picked it up, but the challenging writing style in the beginning turned me off and it's been sitting on my shelves unread ever since. When I found out that a great group of friends on Goodreads were going to do a buddy read of it, I couldn't resist pulling it out to join in. Ultimately, I'm really glad ...more
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, fantasy
When I finished this book, I was even considering giving it 5 stars because the ending has such an effect on me. However, I can't ignore the fact that the writing style was hard to get into and I didn't really start enjoying the book before I reached the second half. ...more
DNF at page 52

A huge BR with amazing people. Edge, Alex, Sarah(Luna), Emelia, Jody, Michael and Craig. You are great and I'd be most happy to read any great book with you anytime <3 I want to apologize to you guys that I can't continue this adventure in "Black Company" with you.

I won't rate this book as it wouldn't be fair and there is no such option I can link this book to.

When I started reading it I felt excited and good as I was reading it with awesome people, in the biggest BR I've ever been
Twerking To Beethoven
This was supposed to be a huge BR with heaps of peeps, only the book turned out to be a monumental pile of shite.

Chapter #3 - This is where I'm giving up. I've been told the the following instalments are much better than this one, but, honestly, I just don't have time nor energy to even try. Also, I'm supposed to finish this bastard to actually go ahead with the story, thing is there are so many issues in the pages I've gone through, I just don't feel like that, I'd rather... I don't even know.
Jun 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We are minions of the villains of the piece. We confess the illusion and deny the substance.

There are no self-proclaimed villains, only regiments of self-proclaimed saints. Victorious historians rule where good or evil lies.

We abjure labels. We fight for money and an indefinable pride. The politics, the ethics, the moralities, are irrelevant.

I loved this one.

I didn't start out loving it, but on my second attempt at it with a group of friends, I found myself thoroughly hooked.

It probably helps th
Ɗẳɳ  2.☊

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Please note: This is merely a preliminary hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence against the defendant to carry this matter to trial.

JUDGE: Will the defendant please rise . . . Mr. Wrongreader, I see here you have been informed of your right to have counsel present, but have chosen to wave that right. Is that correct, sir?

Michael Britt
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Actual rating: 3.75. Rounded up because of the latter half of the book.

This actually ended up being harder to rate than I thought it would! The first 3 chapters were quite boring and badly written. So I'd give them a 3 star rating to be generous. But chapters 4, 5, 6 and 7 were honestly pretty awesome. This book was frustrating, up til chapter 4, because I could tell Cook has talent, but it felt like he wasn't "tapped into it" just yet. So I was really happy to see him "evolve" as an author abo
Troy G
Dec 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
You will either love this book or hate it. It is like nothing else ever written. It is the gateway to a series that is consistently better with each novel, but this novel is so polarizing that you might never be able to appreciate the series for what a masterwork it is.

First, the book is told from a first person perspective by an unreliable narrator in a vernacular that is less flowery than is common for fantasy works. This is often the thing that turns people off to this book, but I encourage y
David Sven
May 28, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, dark-fantasy
Position Vacant:

The Black Company is now recruiting in your city. All applications considered. No credit checks, no criminal history checks, no psychological tests, no moral aptitude tests. No matter how dark your history the “Black” in Black Company is Black enough to blot out all your past sins.
Prerequisites: We prefer those who are experienced at “wet work.” If you have never killed anyone, we can provide on the job training but one must consider carefully before hand if you can undergo such
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.75 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Buddy read with the FBR Company

A great action-packed read with tough kick-ass characters of questionable moral compass.

It did take a while for me to get adjusted to the abrupt jarring writing style (which is why I also took off quarter of a star) but the characters and the plot drew me fastly in and by the end of Chapter 3 I couldn't set it down anymore.

Cook writes as if he's just a regular army guy telling a story to his friends. You don't really read a book but listen to a tough man a
4-1/2 stars, and may get rounded up.

I was afraid to read this book, because dark, bleak military fantasy? So not my thing. So even though Markus's updates really caught my imagination a year or so ago, I had this series on my mental "probably never going to read" list.

Then all my friends in the Buddies Books and Baubles group started a buddy read, and I knew I would kick myself if I didn't join in. And I'm so glad I did.

No one will sing songs in our memory. We are the last of the Free Comp
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is my first read of 2017 and a hell of a book, if I may say.

Very interesting aproach to a new fantasy world, this time we have a Company of mercenaries serving the bad Sorceress in a hundred year war.

If I may say this looked like a Sven Hassel book with a dark fantasy background.

The story it`s very grimm, it has some tones of humor, but overall the thing are deadly serious and people get killed all the time so I understand why Eriksson has said that this fantasy serie has single handedly ch
Oct 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
After finishing each of the first three novels in Chronicles of the Black Company , the so-called Books of the North, I was left with that indescribable sense of satisfaction that comes with finishing a great story, but I was also left with a question. That question reached the height of it's baffling power after finishing The Black Company, and though I had the answer to it the question still lingered while reading Shadows Linger and The White Rose .

That question? Why have so many mo
TS Chan
I read this at a time when I really couldn't concentrate very much on my reading, what more one of the grimdark fantasy genre. As such, I fear I might not be giving due justice to a book of such stature amongst fans of this subgenre.

Glen Cook is known as the father of grimdark, way before Joe Abercrombie, Steven Erikson and George R.R. Martin. The Black Company is a military fantasy book and is about a brotherhood, known as the Company, that serves whomever that employs them in war. The premise
Sad Sunday (If I say it's bad, it's bad)
Reread on 2017.02.08 in my native language.

I... Just... Can't...


Even if I had the biggest support team ever (thank youuu!), I couldn't force myself to read any further than fifty pages.

At least now I can put a finger on a thing I don't like - it's the style. I guess I just like epic fantasy with the normal amount of description, not a crazy pace and writing - while reading "The Black Company" I found nothing to "hold on" - characters are scattered, the environment changes abruptly, to feel "i
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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 m ...more

Other books in the series

The Chronicles of the Black Company (10 books)
  • Shadows Linger (The Chronicles of the Black Company, #2)
  • The White Rose (The Chronicles of the Black Company, #3)
  • Shadow Games (The Chronicles of the Black Company, #4)
  • Dreams of Steel (The Chronicles of the Black Company, #5)
  • Bleak Seasons (The Chronicles of the Black Company, #6)
  • She is the Darkness (The Chronicles of the Black Company, #7)
  • Water Sleeps (The Chronicles of the Black Company, #8)
  • Soldiers Live (The Chronicles of the Black Company, #9)
  • A Pitiless Rain (The Chronicles of the Black Company, #10)

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