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She Is The Darkness: A Novel of the Black Company
Glen Cook
Tor Books, 384 pages
Glittering Stone
Book One Bleak Seasons
Book Two She Is The Darkness

She Is The Darkness
Glen Cook
Glen Cook's works include the Black Company fantasy series and the Garrett hard-boiled-detective/fantasy series. He is also the author of the Dread Empire series.

Eric Herrmann's Tribute Site
Official Glen Cook Bibliography
SF Site review of Bleak Seasons

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Wayne MacLaurin

Thirteen years ago I picked up a novel called The Black Company and began a saga unlike any other I've encountered in fantasy literature. The novel told the story of a bunch of mercenaries caught on the wrong side of a war they couldn't hope to win. A war where powerful wizards used armies like chess pieces. It was a story that blurred the lines between good and evil, black and white. The characters were refreshingly gray and startlingly real. It was great. It raised my expectations of a good fantasy novel several notches.

That novel is among the most dog-eared in my collection, both from being re-read and from being loaned out to anyone who asked, Got anything good to read?.

Like the paperback in my collection, the Annals of the Black Company have weathered the test of time and continue to gather both sequels and fans. The original novel has been reprinted four times as the series continues.

The latest book in the series, She Is The Darkness is the second in the latest saga, and seventh overall. Like its predecessor, Bleak Seasons, the tale is told through the pen of Murgen, the Standard Bearer and Annalist for the Company. Picking up roughly where the last novel left off, Glen Cook extends his tale of the Black Company's quest for Khatovar and their battles against the Shadowmasters.

Glen Cook continues to weave past and present together with Murgen's ghost walking. It instills in the reader a sense of gnawing uncertainty at what is real, what is now and what is merely dream as the plot continues to thicken while the Company draws ever closer to the end of their quest. Into the central plot of the quest for Khatovar and the minor problem of the Shadowmasters, Cook weaves treachery, the child of the goddess of death and an insane, revenge-driven sorceress.

As I expected after reading Bleak Seasons, this entry in the saga does indeed deal primarily with the battle against the Shadowmaster, Longshadow. By no means does it provide any hints to where Glen Cook will take the series before its conclusion. Cook continues to throw plot twists at the reader. The novel is both exciting and frustrating -- exciting because it delivers on every expectation the series has given rise to; frustrating because the reader is left hanging, the saga far from done and, the next book maybe years away.

I invite you to journey with Croaker, The Lady, One-Eye, Soulcatcher and Longshadow and the rest of the most bizarre collection of mercenaries and villains ever conceived. If you've read the others, She Is The Darkness is a great ride. If you want to experience what the Black Company is, I strongly recommend you start at the beginning. Like all great, complex stories, this one is just too confusing to jump in mid-way.

Copyright © 1997 by Wayne MacLaurin

Wayne MacLaurin is a regular SF Site reviewer. More of his opinions are available on our Book Reviews pages.

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