Shadows Linger ( A Novel of the Black Company)
By Glen Cook
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Fantasy/Dark Fantasy
Mercenary soldiers in the service of the Lady, the Black Company stands against the rebels of the White Rose. They are tough men, proud of honoring their contracts. The Lady is evil, but so, too, are those who falsely profess to follow the White Rose, reincarnation of a centuries-dead heroine. Yet now some of the Company have discovered that the mute girl they rescued and sheltered is truly the White Rose reborn. Now there may be a path to the light, even for such as they. If they can survive it.
I just began my journey with The Black Company only recently. Having discovered Glen Cook and his work through an article discussing top fantasy reads, I learned of this older series and was immediately captured by the synopsis. The Black Company fared very well with me, and I decided to continue forward with this motley crew. You can visit my review of the first book here.
I have already developed a rather strong fondness for this somewhat gritty and old school, epic fantasy. The author’s straightforward and grim storytelling appeal to me in a way that not too many series have. So there are some roots established with The Black Company. I am happy and obliged to report that the continuing saga of Croaker and this rag-tag crew does not disappoint.
We find ourselves picking up roughly where we left The Black Company. They currently remain in service of The Lady, honoring their ever increasingly questionable contract. In the midst of Raven and Darling’s disappearance, Croaker and the Company have been sent north to investigate the ominous Black Castle. They soon find that they are up against a foe more dangerous than The Lady herself. Potential facing the release of the Dominator, they must band together in a battle of strength, wisdom and time.
“The Lady was medicine bad enough. The Dominator, though, was the body of which her evil was but a shadow. Or so the legend goes. I sometimes wonder why, if that is true, she walks the earth and he lies restless in the grave.”
― Glen Cook,
I am going to center this review around why I enjoyed this second book more than the first. I am not going to be including too many revealing, plot details. There is always the risk of spoilers, and I am encouraging any fan of fantasy who has not done so, to experience this series for themselves.
The Black Company returns with the same familiar faces and a few additional new ones as well. Unlike our first adventure, we are given fresh perspectives through the eyes of several additional and interesting, key characters: Asa and Shed. I found both of them to be a great contribution to the story-line, adding a new level of depth that was easy to appreciate.
The pace of Shadows Linger was much more consistent, and the narration has been broken into smaller chapters. This provided for a more steady read, eliminating the limited but tedious moments I experienced with The Black Company during my first encounter. The entire reading process is clean, crisp, and all wrapped up in a matter-of-fact way that manages not to sacrifice detail or depth.
The amount of action and sense of adventure have increased greatly as the plot moves forward. I found myself completely engaged and now fully connected with several members of the Company. There is a more significant sense of camaraderie as they have all been through so much more at this point. The struggle to continue forward with a contract that they would normally honor to all extents, but now realize they should never have entered into is an ongoing battle for even some the most morally challenged members.
“Oh, ‘twould be marvelous if the world and its moral questions were like some game board, with plain black players and white, and fixed rules, and nary a shade of grey.”
― Glen Cook,
For myself, the sequel in a series is usually the big book, the one. This is often the book that will determine whether I carry on or stop. I was thrilled to find that my time with The Back Company will continue.
Cook persistently shines with his ability to weave a tale full of fantasy and mystery. In Shadows Linger, he has pulled together a story that feels like a comforting return to old friends on new adventures. The quickened pace, new faces, and evolving story arc provide a fulfilling read that takes you on a known, yet entirely new journey. A sequel to rival the first!
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐