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A Fortress in Shadow (Dread Empire #4-5)

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  549 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
Once a mighty kingdom reigned, but now all is chaos. In the vast reaches of the desert, a young heretic escapes certain death and embarks on a mission of madness and glory. He is El Murid - the Disciple - who vows to bring order, prosperity, and righteousness to the desert people of Hammad al Nakir. After four long centuries, El Murid is the savior who is destined to build ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published August 1st 2008 by Night Shade Books (first published June 1st 2007)
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Nov 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This is an omnibus containing the fourth and fifth books of The Dread Empire series: The Fire in His Hands and With Mercy toward None - respectively. Because the latter book picks up right where the former one leaves it does not make any sense to talk about them separately.

These books make up a prequel to the first trilogy. They show how some alliances which became obvious in the middle of the original trilogy were formed as well as the situation of the major players of the series right before t
Mar 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The second Dread Empire omnibus collects The Fire in His Hands and With Mercy Toward None; two books that take place a couple of decades prior to the original Dread Empire trilogy and both provide backstory for major characters (Bragi, Mocker and Haroun) and tell the story of the El Murid wars, which were alluded to in the original trilogy as having had a major impact on the shape of the world.

These books are about the son of a desert salt merchant in a vaguely Arabian setting who has a religiou
May 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first Glen Cook I've ever read. Seen his stuff on the shelves, looked interesting, but I was always turned off by the lack of a map.

Well, the edition of A Fortress in Shadow I read doesn't have a map either, but I perservered. And man was it worth it.

Maybe my endorsement will have a little more impact if I mention that I am not particularly a fan of the recent trend in fantasy literature that insists all morality is a smear of grey, existence is futile, everyone is kind of a huge jer
Luke Coury
Would give it a little more than a 3 but not enough to round it up to 4. That being said, it was a great book! I think a lot of my complaint has to do with its relative weakness compared to the other novels surrounding it. It was, however, great to finally understand Haroun's motives and the beginning of Bragi and his brother. Not to mention to finally understand the conflict of the El Murid wars that were so often referenced in the previous 3 books. Obviously, with prequels, you tend to know th ...more
F.F. White
Pros: This pair of military adventure stories contains the essence of Cook's signature style. It covers a lot of characters and action in a short amount of time, and can be impressive sometimes with its detailed scenes and tension.

Cons: On the other hand, there are so many characters and so few details to distinguish them that it is at times difficult to pick up a plot-line where it left off. I found myself attached to characters that died early on or that were not featured very much. Particular
Larry Kenney
Jan 22, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy-novels
Once again a solid effort by Glen Cook. It's easy to see how he became so influential to the current crop of "hard" fantasy writers. He has made a very expansive and defined world. I found the middle eastern influence really interesting. In typical Cook fashion, however, the book swings wildly from extended bouts of character development to what I call Cook's "narrated outline" format. Towards the end, events happen fast with little to no exposition, almost just a stating of facts. Sometimes it ...more
May 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
An epic fantasy set against the beginnings of religious empire spawned by a single believer from a desert people. It's obviously inspired by the beginnings of Islam, but I don't know that period of history well enough to say how much Cook borrowed from real events. Not completely, since there is magic and wizards (though it's very much a low magic setting).

The book (actually two prequels to the Dread Empire trilogy) does jump around between characters, sometimes quite abruptly. Additionally ther
Nov 30, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very encompassing fantasy novel by Glen Cook. It is written with the usual grittiness and humanity that accompanies all of Glen Cook's stories. A Fortress in Shadow is a collection of the two prequal novels in the Dread Empire series. It includes "The Fire in His Hands" and "With Mercy Toward None". I have not read the other books in the series yet so I do not know how they tie in but what is covered in this book seems to be some very key ground work for the later stories. I am looking ...more
Jan 23, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
Glen Cook has experimented with a lot of different forms, genre's and styles over his long career - some I love, some I like, some leave me a bit cold.

I like the sweeping history and the focus on the role of individuals in setting the course of events (both deliberately and otherwise).

However I struggle to get on with the style of this series; its terse to the point of feeling more like an outline than the finished work.

Its not often I think a fantasy book could have been improved by being longe
Morgan Rowe-Morris
Apr 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This omnibus volume includes both of the prequels to Cook's Dread Empire series. Like most of Cook's work the writing is crisp, the characters rich and human and the fantasy both dark and epic.

In many ways Dread Empire is what George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire promised it would be through the first three books, a compelling well written fantasy epic in which the characters are human and heroism has consequences.

The entire Dread Empire series should be on any fantasy readers list, and t
Joshua Simon
Written some years after the books that make up "The Cruel Wind" Omnibus, this prequel is a big step up to that first collection of Dread Empire stories. It is a great story about how all of the main players from the first Omnibus came together. Cook's writing style has improved significantly since his earlier efforts and he is able to tell a much tighter story while also creating additional layers to some of your favorite characters.
Len Egan
Feb 06, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
This is a pre-quel to the first trilogy of the Dread Empire series. It is not as good as the second part of the series (chronologically) however you get a lot of the back story and see how some characters came to be as they are. Recommended if you are a fan of Cook and have read the first trilogy in the Dread Empire Series.
Oct 02, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fantasy retelling of the birth of Islam with Cook's touch and a back story to the Dread Empire novels. A nice read.
Jurgen Appelo
Aug 14, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Absolutely terrible. Bad writing, uninspiring characters, uninteresting world building. I gave up after 75 pages.
Clint Bowers
Aug 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I good batch of stories. Sometimes boring in little bits, but altogether interesting and entertaining. Nothing compared to the Black Company though.
2-in-1, The Fire in His Hands, With Mercy Towards None
G.S. Scott
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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
More about Glen Cook...

Other Books in the Series

Dread Empire (8 books)
  • A Shadow of All Night Falling (Dread Empire, #1)
  • October's Baby (Dread Empire, #2)
  • All Darkness Met (Dread Empire, #3)
  • The Fire in His Hands (Dread Empire, #4)
  • With Mercy Toward None (Dread Empire, #5)
  • Reap the East Wind (Dread Empire, #6)
  • An Ill Fate Marshalling (Dread Empire, #7)
  • A Path to Coldness of Heart (Dread Empire, #8)