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The Black Company (The Chronicles of the Black Company, #1)
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Chronicles of the Black Company > The Black Company; Chapters 1-3; 1-7 June 13

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message 1: by Shelley (last edited May 31, 2013 08:52PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Shelley (shelley69) | 597 comments Welcome all to The Black Company!! (wish you could see my evil Sgt's grin!) So far I've enjoyed Glen Cook's amazing debut book in this ten book series (fitting that it's a Ten book series don't you think?:)

It's been decided by the group that we read one book every two weeks, since some of the volumes are not as large as an Erikson installment I think this can be done! :) I do ask that we take the week of the 4th of July off, it's a holiday where I live and since I'm moving that week, I say we enjoy the holiday. Hope that's okay??

All that being said, WOW!!!!! Are we thrown into the middle of everything or what?? The first volume is narrated by Croaker, the Company's Doctor and Annalist. An Annalist of a Company that has a 400+ year history, that has to carry some series weight within the Company!

Now here's where I have a question for everyone, who's read The Malazan Book of the Fallen?? If you have then you will notice the very first Glen Cook (from here on out he will be referred to as GC) (which Glen Cook's initials are the Crippled God's initials inverted, just saying) inspired Erikson reference, One-Eye in the first sentence (as in One Eye Cat on the continent of Genabackis! Oh and the Oman on the first page, Phew we already know things are going to get hairy!!!


message 2: by Jon (new) - added it

Jon (jonmoss) | 706 comments I started this ebook a couple of hours ago. Finished the first chapter. Interesting writing style.

I have only read the first book the the Malazan series. Didn't care for it so never continued the series. I am liking Cook's writing better though.


message 3: by Cheryl (new) - added it

Cheryl Lacey | 2 comments I've read the first two chapters and I just can't force myself to read any further. I don't know if it's the writing or the reader but I'm having an awful time with it. I find it difficult to follow and I can't get into it at all. I also don't understand why we have to read about card playing (in detail) and yet the author skips over battles saying that they were fought and won. It just isn't for me, I think. I may try again later but for now, I'm moving on.


message 4: by Daniel (last edited Jun 03, 2013 10:44AM) (new)

Daniel (dward526) I read the first three books a couple of months ago, so I will be coming in at book 4. I enjoyed the writing. Cook did very well at capturing the feel of military service (any other vets familiar with 'hurry up and wait...eh?' and never really knowing what is going on in the bigger picture). That being said, it is not for everyone.

Side note, I have yet to start Malazan...but it on my list!


message 5: by Chris (new)

Chris  King (kingc519) so far I'm not really enjoying the book. I really hope it picks up because I bought the first 3 books


Shelley (shelley69) | 597 comments Cheryl wrote: "I've read the first two chapters and I just can't force myself to read any further. I don't know if it's the writing or the reader but I'm having an awful time with it. I find it difficult to follo..."

Hello Cheryl!! :) Wait!!! Would you please try something for me first before you put tBC down?? Please reread the first two chapters and see how you feel about it after your reread. This is my first experience reading one of Glen Cook's books and like you I found his writing some what choppy at first and lacking detail, but since I was moderating the discussion I thought I better reread what I had just read because I couldn't figure out what the man was saying! So I started over and I understood it so much better.

I've since finished and I really enjoyed it. I would give it 4/5 stars, when we finish the series I will most likely go back and read this installment again since I'm sure it will make more since then! :)


Shelley (shelley69) | 597 comments Hi Jon! It's so funny but I've read the Malazan series in its entirety three times, both Steven Erikson's and Esselmont's books, (some books 4 or 5 times:) and moderated the group reading here with Maggie. The story goes both SE and ICE both read and love Cook's series and it heavily influenced them both. So this was the reason I wanted to read Cook's series! I absolutely see the influence on just about every page, it was kinda freaky weird! So I hope you stay with us Jon!

Oh and Cheryl, unlike Cook, Erikson gives you the details in everything, just not in order! Which is why all his books are HUGE!

@ Daniel, I hope you'll pipe in before book four! There was a couple things I need to go back and reread but maybe you might be able to shed some light on things! :)


Shelley (shelley69) | 597 comments In Chapter One, we are introduced to the Black Company (tBC) thru Croaker the Company's Physician and Annalist. As both, he wields some serious influence among the soldiers and Officers alike. What we're reading are his entries in the Company's Chronicles (it took more than a minute for that to become apparent to me!)

Basically tBC is a mercenary company, so be prepared for some soldier humor, like the names people are given within the company; and as Daniel said up above a lot of hurry up and waiting, so lots of laying cards! It's the conversations going on during the card games that we'll need to play attention to! :)

The Oman Croaker refers to in the first lines of the story is very important, that I'm sure of, since the lightening strike happened in the middle of the day. Just what it or the Eagle being ejected from the tower symbolizes are somewhat answered by the ending of the chapter but not completely.

But terror is released when the Forvalaka is set free!


Tina (alatha) What I like about the narrative is how real these characters feel. We see how ruthless these mercenaries can be, yet they also have a code of honor and a conscience in the person of their Annalist, Croaker. When Croaker allows himself to be swayed by the other officers and gives his approval for the betrayal of tBC's commission, he is ashamed by how that betrayal plays out and seems to despair that tBC may be beyond salvaging as an honorable company.


Andreas I've been a little bit surprised that this series passed me in the 80s when I read much more than now. Then I saw the references to Malazan which made me a little bit reluctant to start this book, because I had my problems with this other series.

Having just passed 8%, I have to say that I get way better into the book than with Malazan.

That may be due to the first person perspective or the remarks and impressions of the Annalist (btw, isn't there a person called "Croaker" in Malazan as well?). It feels like a diary and seems a little bit similar to Heroditus' histories with all the personal remarks about events and other people from the company.

I also like the writing style with its terse and sometimes staccato like dialogues.

And of course there is the fantasy aspect with it's magic system (starting with shamanistic omens) and a therianthrop.


message 11: by Tina (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tina (alatha) I like Croaker's interest in the past and how it contrasts with the disinterest of his fellows not only for the history of the places tBC are occupying but also in each others sordid pasts. Croaker has to KNOW and this is very much taboo within the mercenary ranks. This seems to be why he keeps finding himself within the notice of those by which he might rather not be noticed.


message 12: by Cheryl (new) - added it

Cheryl Lacey | 2 comments Shelley wrote: "Cheryl wrote: "I've read the first two chapters and I just can't force myself to read any further. I don't know if it's the writing or the reader but I'm having an awful time with it. I find it dif..."

Hi Shelley :) Yes, I will give it another go but I make no promises. I really do want to read the series after seeing the reviews. :)


Andreas Tina wrote: "Croaker has to KNOW and this is very much taboo within the mercenary ranks. "
Besides the mages he seems to be the only one who knows - the mages only give blinks and hints, but it's the annilist's job role to tell. Even the captain asks him to do so:
"The Captain settled beside me. “Tell me, Croaker.” So I told him ..."


message 14: by Tina (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tina (alatha) What I am saying, though, is that Croaker's desire to know goes beyond just getting things down in the Annals. Croaker WANTS to know. He tries to ferret out personal details about his fellows even though that is taboo. Once a person is in the company, their past is off-limits,, unless the person chooses to share. Croaker keeps hoping he can inadvertently prize tidbits out of his friends' pasts.

"In all the years I have known the Captain I have learned almost nothing about him. Just a hint here and there, fleshed out by speculation."
and
"Raven reigned in beside me. "The Limper's work. I've see it before.". I sniffed the wind. Maybe I had him in the right mood. "When was that?" He ignored me."


message 15: by Tina (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tina (alatha) Plus, the Annals are a history of tBC. What the Captain is asking Croaker for is history of another sort because the Captain knows that Croaker pursues such knowledge beyond the focus of the Annals.


Laurel I struggled a little bit with the first couple of chapters - there's quite a bit he just glosses over, but I stuck with it and am now really enjoying it. Can definitely see the influence it's had on Erikson and Esslemont for the Malazan series. It's getting more and more interesting the more you pick up about the world and the war they are involved in, the writing style just takes a bit of getting used to!


message 17: by Shelley (last edited Jun 05, 2013 10:57AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Shelley (shelley69) | 597 comments There is a tangible feel to the characters which I'm enjoying! Croaker is the perfect lens for our first look at tBC! As everyone's observed, he has nose for a story, but due to the unwritten law of the Company's of not asking questions about a members past limits what he can ask, so he's ALWAYS looking for an opening! In this manner, Croaker is the perfect Annalist!


message 18: by Shelley (last edited Jun 05, 2013 06:18AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Shelley (shelley69) | 597 comments @ Cheryl, I'm glad you're giving this another chance, so thank you! It really flowed better when I reread it! I agree I wanted more information and Cook seemed to gloss over things I wanted to understand!

@ Laurel; totally agree on both counts!! Glad there's someone else here who's read the Malazan Book of the Fallen!! I really feel like it was the most amazing thing I've ever read in my life, I almost feel ruined!

@ Andreas, My first response was nope no Croaker, I double checked before I answered, no Croaker in the Malazan series.


Shelley (shelley69) | 597 comments We need to talk about Soulcatcher and the Taken a little bit!!! He/She is crazy weird!!!! All those voices?? Reminds me of Quick Ben kinda!!!


Andreas Thank you Shelley for checking!

@Tina: Your citations come from the second chapter "Raven", that I haven't read through, yet. But I already got a glimpse of Croaker's investigative touch - that is a kind of development of his personality. I think, your second citation from Raven is a little bit flawed, because Raven comes WITH history to tBC ("Settle it before we leave.", but he didn't completely), so a little investigation seems okay. And I don't think, that ignoring the history is really carved in stone as a rule. If a person's history endangers tBC it has to be considered.

Would Croaker be a better captain with his (assumed) knowledge of historical tactics? I think, he won't be a narrator only through all the chapters. Where will he develop to: Will he die a nice GRRM style death or will he climb the ranks (please no spoilers from future chapters in your speculations ;) )?

Shelley wrote: "We need to talk about Soulcatcher and the Taken a little bit!!! He/She is crazy weird!!!! All those voices?? Reminds me of Quick Ben kinda!!!"
The Ten Who were Taken are described as the ultimate evil and parts of this crazyness shines through. It was a nice draw from Cook to hand tBC over to this interesting lot. I wonder if they are really that bad ass. After all, they scheme against each other (cf Limper's minions vs. Soulcatcher's tBC) a little bit boringly.

Quick Ben has got more head on his shoulders and meat between his legs than Soulcatcher. So far for comparisons :)


Shelley (shelley69) | 597 comments LOL Andreas, more meat eh!! :) The compairison is more about all the souls inside each of them, then any hanging meat! :)


Laurel @Shelley - I know right? Totally hooked straight from the beginning of Gardens of the Moon!

Croaker seems like he might get something out of Soulcatcher eventually, he doesn't give up and by ch3 he/she/it seems a tiny bit more approachable (sort of:S). I know what you mean about the Quick Ben comparison, obvs totally different characters as Andreas points out but maybe it sowed the seed for the idea of having the different souls acquired by one person.

Any thoughts on the Captain? He seems pretty distant. A lot of author's would use Croaker as a means to show the leader of this group - as the doctor/annalist, you would think he would be able to get more out of the Captain than a 'regular' soldier, but... nothing so far.


Andreas There is a re-read on TOR as well which won't spoil too much: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2013/05/the-...

And I found some Maps from a RPG: http://www.cartographersguild.com/att...

Surely, you might want to understand the Tonk rules:
http://www.bsfs.org/bsfstonk.htm


Shelley (shelley69) | 597 comments Thanks Andi for the map and the Tonk rules!! It was driving me crazy that the Kindle version of tBC didn't have a map! I'm a former soldier and I NEED my maps! :)


Shelley (shelley69) | 597 comments Any thoughts on Raven?? Pretty crazy how he took care of his "issues" eh!?


message 26: by Shelley (last edited Jun 07, 2013 06:14AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Shelley (shelley69) | 597 comments Chapter 3: Raker was an eye opening chpater. It was after this chapter that I felt things just started to flow better, or just made since. By chapters end Croaker, Raven and a few others have secrets even Croaker doesn't share with the Annels!


Andreas I'd have preferred a more intelligent or subtle solution , but then it wouldn't be Raven, right?

I haven't got understanding problems up to chap.3. But here, I was completely lost. I simply didn't understand the content - why did they bring in this golden bait, why went Lumper around it, why didn't they behead Raker? Etc...


message 28: by Shelley (last edited Jun 07, 2013 08:23AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Shelley (shelley69) | 597 comments I think it has been mentioned already, The Black Company doesn't like to fight unless they HAVE too. Well since they got ahold of Raker's hair now they have power over him, and they set the trap. tBC would rather take Raker out without raising a finger, which they were able to accomplish with this scheme.


message 29: by Jon (new) - added it

Jon (jonmoss) | 706 comments Shelley wrote: "I think it has been mentioned already, The Black Company doesn't like to fight unless they HAVE too. Well since they got ahold of Raker's hair now they have power over him, and they set the trap. ..."

Reminds me of Mat from WoT. Always trying to avoid a fight but beware once you pin him down and make him fight.


message 30: by Shelley (last edited Jun 07, 2013 08:29AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Shelley (shelley69) | 597 comments Jon wrote: Reminds me of Mat from WoT. Always trying to avoid a fight but beware once you pin him down and make him fight. "

Exactly!! :)


Joecrash411 (goodreadscomJoecrash) | 11 comments I noticed the similarity to the Erickson books about the 2nd sentence in; I really liked Erickson's 1st book, but they all went downhill from there - It never occurred to me that GC's books preceded the "Books of the Dead", but now I can see it. I like all of GC's stuff, but mostly all the books before they start their pilgrimage to their fabled roots in the south. It will be interesting to see what other's think of it.


Daniel wrote: "I read the first three books a couple of months ago, so I will be coming in at book 4. I enjoyed the writing. Cook did very well at capturing the feel of military service (any other vets familiar..."

Shelley wrote: "Cheryl wrote: "I've read the first two chapters and I just can't force myself to read any further. I don't know if it's the writing or the reader but I'm having an awful time with it. I find it dif..."


Shelley (shelley69) | 597 comments Hey Joe! I think that is the first time I have EVER heard "I really liked Erickson's 1st book, but they all went downhill from there..." usually it's the other way around! :)


message 33: by Gene (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gene Shelley wrote: "Hey Joe! I think that is the first time I have EVER heard "I really liked Erickson's 1st book, but they all went downhill from there..." usually it's the other way around! :)"

Count me second. I was really pulled into the first book, but thought the second one was boring except for Chain of Dogs plotline which took less than 1/3 of the book.


message 34: by Shelley (last edited Jun 11, 2013 08:48AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Shelley (shelley69) | 597 comments Evgeny wrote: Count me second. I was really pulled into the first book, but thought the second one was boring except for Chain of Dogs plotline which took less than 1/3 of the book..."

Did you read further than Deadhouse Gates Evgeny?

I too hated book two (DG), with the exception of the Chain of Dogs sections, I'm prior military and that part of the story was amazingly writen and hit home for me, the rest of the book I could have left in the trash!! Then I read Memories in Ice and was finally hooked! Don't get me wrong, the series needs Deadhouse Gates because of how inportant the events that happen within it, doesn't mean I had to like it! :)

The rest of the series is the most amazing thing EVER written....End of Story!!! :)


message 35: by Gene (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gene Yes, I finished the series. I really hated the idea of middle part of all books being really boring with different people thinking the same miserable thoughts over and over. The only exception was The Bonehunters which did not have that boring part and which I consider to be the best book of the series, or the second best.


message 36: by Shelley (last edited Jun 11, 2013 09:15AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Shelley (shelley69) | 597 comments Yeah Bonehunters is a great book, its when we meet Sgt Hellian who is my favorite character of ALL times!! Midnight Tides was also amazing because it made me laugh my butt off all the way thru it!

To bring this back on topic, I'm glad there's more than one person who sees the connection from GC to SE/ICE! :)


message 37: by Maggie, The Malazan Queen of Chaos (new) - rated it 3 stars

Maggie K | 1202 comments Mod
I finally found my book and was able to start this. A lot better the second time around. I remember when I first read this, the events in that first city were really confusing to me.


Marilyn | 20 comments I am also planning to reread the first book. I think I missed a lot because I was just getting used to the idea of how the book was written and who all the characters were. I think I skimmed way too much.


Shelley (shelley69) | 597 comments Hey Mags!! :) Welcome!! I'm really enjoying this series!! Like SE, it's a little tough early on, but once you get past chapter three things just make since!


message 40: by Eric (new)

Eric Zawadzki | 46 comments I got a bit of a late start this time around because I was finishing a lengthy book for my other book club.

I definitely see lots of stylistic and thematic similarities between tBC and Malazan (although I've only read the first 2 Malazan books, so far). Also, one of the things I liked about Abercrombie was his sympathetic characters who would be villains in most fantasy novels (torturer, dandy, berserker, etc.), and there's a bit of that here, too. I mean, the Black Company are basically Stormtroopers for the evil empire, but they're mostly just trying to get by and live to see tomorrow.


Shelley (shelley69) | 597 comments I agree Eric! Cook captured the soldiers life perfectly. I heard he served durning the Veitnam war, if so then it all makes since why/how he gets his insight. If not, then the man is a genius! You should enjoy this read!


Naydene | 5 comments Hi all, I'm WAY behind on this one but wanted to follow the comments, even if noone is still writing them. Thanks to all for the great insights. I did the same with Malazan and found it really helpful. Hi Shelley and Maggie!

I can see very clearly the influence of GC on SE and ICE. It is the first time since I finished Malazan that I've felt anything close to this style.

Shelley, I totally agree with you that Malazan has ruined me. I'm way more critical of other books since then. I'm getting myself tensed for my first Malazan re-read after this. I am really enjoying this book now and I'm hoping for great things as the series progresses.


Shelley (shelley69) | 597 comments Naydene wrote: "Hi all, I'm WAY behind on this one but wanted to follow the comments, even if noone is still writing them. Thanks to all for the great insights. I did the same with Malazan and found it really he..."

HI Naydene! You're going to love this sereis, if only for the fact that you UNDERSTAND where SE/ICE got some of their crazy ideas from. Granted SE/ICE created their own world, but the links are back here to Cook! :)


message 44: by Alex (new) - rated it 4 stars

Alex | 104 comments I'm three and a half chapters in and like it so far but I wish there was some sort of background about the politics and empires so I could understand more of who is what. In the Raker chapter Limper was the guy they were all trying to avoid and now he says Limper and Shapeshifter are the only ones on their side. I get that they're mercenaries but it's skipping around a lot.


message 45: by Sara (new) - rated it 1 star

Sara Champagne Yes it does skip a lot. I was completely lost with the writing style. I had no idea who was doing what or why, or what was going on. It was so much of a cluster that I put it down. Could have been written better.


message 46: by Fer (new) - added it

Fer B | 22 comments Finally I read the first book! At first I had the same problema as almost everyone else with the writing, but quickly started to fall in love with the book. I adore Soulcatcher, and the Company grew on me.
I liked the mystery atmosphere around the Taken and the past of the Company, and how Croaker is slowly introducing us to the rest of the black company and to all past events that are relevant to his present/the present of the company.


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