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The Black Company

(The Chronicles of the Black Company #1)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  36,761 ratings  ·  1,699 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 prophecy: The White Rose has been reborn, somewhere, to embody good once more. There must be a way for the Black Compan
Kindle Edition, 323 pages
Published March 15th 1992 by Tor Books (first published May 15th 1984)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
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 ·  36,761 ratings  ·  1,699 reviews

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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 writing *shudders*. I48%
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
💥 February 2, 2019: Guess what book is only $2.99 today? Ha!

💀 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 :

💥 February 2, 2019: Guess what book is only $2.99 today? Ha!

💀 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 discreetely kidnapped some of their fellow mercenaries to keep them company. They have me to keep them, um, entertained, of course, but what with my other 24,548 harem spouses I can't keep everyone, um, you know, satisfied 24/7 and stuff. I have therefore decided to abduct One-Eye and Goblin. I'm pretty sure they will provide Croaker and Lady with hours and hours of most delightful, lively entertainment. Official Court Harem Jesters (OCHJ™) I hereby name them and stuff.

That's not exactly what I had in mind, but hey, I guess it would work, too. Sure it would. I bet Lady is going to love the unicorn costume, too.

And now excuse me while I go, um, entertain, Mad Rogan and Sandman Slim and His Furriness and Daniel Faust and Ms Caitlleanabruaudi and Caleb Shepperd and Ace Dante and and and...need I go on? Didn't think so.

[Original review]

Actual rating: 15 stars. And I'm not even exaggerating.

Warning: this book is not for the fluffy bunnies, pastel-colored rainbows, romance freaks. If you belong to that scary lovely bunch of people, do not, I repeat, DO NOT, read this book. It might scar you for life. It might even haunt you after death.

There are books with bad guys. Then there is this book. Never before have I encountered such a glorious collection of twisted, evil, morally corrupt, vile, dishonorable, despicable, contemptible, shady characters. The guys are immoral, the chicks are villainous, the weird creatures are blood-thirsty. And all of them are homicidal maniacs! This. Book. A dream come true.

Meet the bad guys: The Black Company.
They're mercenaries. They will do anything for money. Morals? Completely irrelevant. Ethics? Oh please, don't be silly. We're talking about war here. And crushing the enemy, whatever the cost. Whatever the reasons. Whatever everything. Just follow the orders (-hum- more or less) and cut, cut, cut, slice, slice, slice, hit, hit, hit, kill, kill, kill. Some people sell cute puppies for a living, other get murderous for money. Just a job like any other (view spoiler).

Meet the bad guys the bad guys work for: The Lady and The Ten That Were Taken.
There are villains. And then there are VILLAINS. Believe me when I tell you you have never come across such a bunch of deliciously wicked, evil characters:
✔ Bloodthirsty (minimum job requirement #1)
✔ Nefarious (a personal favourite, obviously)
✔ Vicious (yay!)
✔ Merciless (minimum job requirement #2)
✔ Perverted (hooray!)
✔ Cunning (minimum job requirement #3)
✔ Treacherous (the amount of backstabbing, double-crossing and deceitful scheming going on in this book is mind staggering. And positively exquisite).
✔ Ruthless (minimum job requirement #4)
✔ Just plain despicable (YES YES YES YES YES!)

Meet the bad guys the bad guys that work for the bad guys are up against: The Rebels.
These guys here are not the good-hearted rebel type. They're just as heartless, devious, homicidal and unscrupulous as any other character in this story. Yeah, Cook is an equal-opportunity kind of guy. Everyone gets to be evil in his book. It's absolutely delightful. And so very refreshing {insert happy sigh here}.

Dear silly people who thought I would DNF the hell out of this book in less time that it takes to blink: this is one of the best, most engrossing books I have read in recent years. Take that ye of little faith! This book is epic. This book is awesome. This book is so gripping-compelling-thrilling that once you start you just can't put it down. And it's bloody well written. Okay, so Cook's style takes some getting used to. Okay, so the first chapter kind of makes the reader think he/she is a total idiot. And not bright enough to be reading the book. And might be in need of a brain transplant. Because, frankly, nothing makes sense at first. But worry not dear friends, for it all becomes clear as day once you get past chapter 1. What? What seems to be the problem dear friends? I just scared you away from this book? You think you're not clever enough to read it? Of course you are. Come on people, time to have a little self-confidence! If I, the everytime-I-try-to-read-epic-fantasy-I-DNF-the-book-after-20-pages freak did it, you can, too!

Still not convinced about this? What if I told you flying carpets were involved (guaranteed 100% Aladdin and Jasmine-free)?

How can you resist something like that? Well let me tell you, you can't.

►► And the moral of this review is: read this people, you'll be glad you didyou better be anyway. I might unleash The Lady and The Taken on you if you aren't. Be afraid. Be very afraid .

· Book 1.5: Port of ShadowsI have no idea where this book came from, or what it's about. Pretty sure I never read it.
· Book 2: Shadows Linger ★★★★★
· Book 2.2 (short story): Shaggy Dog Bridge ★★★★★
· Book 2.3 (short story): Bone Eaters ★★★★★
· Book 3: The White Rose ★★★★★
· Book 3.5: The Silver Spike ★★pretending this one never happened.
· Book 4: Shadow Games ★★★★★
· Book 5: Dreams of Steel ★★★★★
· Book 6: Bleak Seasons ★★★★★
· Book 7: She Is The Darkness ★★★★★
· Book 8: Water Sleeps ★★★★★
· Book 9: Soldiers Live ★★★★★
mark monday
May 19, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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 ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads-no-more
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 midst of your own depravity. It's
Mayim de Vries
May 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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 “serving the good ca
Jun 08, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 compa
Eon ♒Windrunner♒
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 yoMartin…
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.
Apr 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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 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 awful developments. I personally
 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 plague
Layla ✷ Praise the sun ✷
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 indefinable
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 sclass="gr-hostedUserImg">
Dec 15, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 influentia
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

Bad guys being good guys, no wait Bad guys, no no good guys screwing over bad guys, no no that's not it. Bad guys doing bad stuff screwing bad guys? Well it is a little confusing, but I found it enjoyable. Sometimes it is pretty funny, but I like corny jokes. It isn't super brutal, but kind of weird magic.

Also, I felt like it was one of those books I could set down and never read again, but while reading it I felt interested. The book wasn't gripping from beginning to
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.

OK, let
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, 2017, to-continue
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.
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
Michael Britt
May 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 thor
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?

Troy G
Dec 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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 Companies of
David Sven
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
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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 modern day fantasy novels chosen not to
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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'
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
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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 (9 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)
“Evil is relative…You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.” 96 likes
“If one chooses sides on emotion then the rebel is the guy to go with. He is fighting for everything men claim to honour, freedom, independance, truth, the right.......all the subjective illusions. All the eternal trigger words. We are minions of the villan of the piece. We confess the illusion and deny the substance.” 28 likes
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