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review 2017-06-26 21:07
Stalking Darkness (Flewelling)
Stalking Darkness - Lynn Flewelling

The sequel to "Luck in the Shadows", this novel essentially closes the story arc relating to the ritualistic reconstitution of an ancient object of power by a nasty modern-day pair (a politician and a wizard, of course). It also sees the first kiss between our two heroes, who have certainly dilly-dallied in getting to that point, but given that Alec is a juvenile, that's quite understandable. If you come to this series hoping for the hot-and-heavy sex and romantic angst of modern-day fanfic set in similar milieux, though, you'll be sorely disappointed. Like the first book, this one's heavy on the plot, relatively light on interpersonal relationships generally, and extremely light on the romance. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the move forward with a familiar world and familiar characters into a new collection of settings and problems. The self-immolation of the elder sage at the hands of a younger character so that the world can be saved is a well-worn trope (waves at that old Hogwarts greybeard); I am hopeful, though, that the PTSD that event rightly triggers in the enforced murderer will be woven into the character a bit and survive beyond the denouement of this book, rather than being instantly cured by a declaration and a first kiss. I think this author's good enough to manage that, and the characterisation important enough to her.

 

That said, I'm going to put this series aside a bit instead of pursuing the last three volumes right away, especially considering the neat wrap-up at the end of this volume. I found the world-building and plot clear and well enough structured, and the writing (other than, once again, the occasionally jarring American slanginess) quite all right, but when I look back on both novels from the distance of a few weeks, I discover I found them competent but not particularly compelling. If somehow I had read them when I was 16, it might have been a different matter.

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review 2017-06-16 22:38
Dreams of Steel / Glen Cook
Dreams of Steel - Glen Cook

Croaker has fallen and, following the Company's disastrous defeat at Dejagore, Lady is one of the few survivors--determined to avenge the Company and herself against the Shadowmasters, no matter what the cost.

But in assembling a new fighting force from the dregs and rabble of Taglios, she finds herself offered help by a mysterious, ancient cult of murder--competent, reliable, and apparently committed to her goals.

Meanwhile, far away, Shadowmasters conspire against one another and the world, weaving dark spells that reach into the heart of Taglios. And in a hidden grove, a familiar figure slowly awakens to find himself the captive of an animated, headless corpse.

Mercilessly cutting through Taglian intrigues, Lady appears to be growing stronger every day. All that disturbs her are the dreams which afflict her by night--dreams of carnage, of destruction, of universal death, unceasing...

 

 

More evil gets done in the name of righteousness than any other way.

Just when I thought that Glen Cook’s grimdark Black Company world couldn’t get any bleaker, any darker, or any weirder…. I realize that I am wrong. Mr. Cook, your dark imagination scares me!

But, I am still invested in the two main characters in Dreams of Steel, namely Croaker and Lady. Croaker provides the dark sense of humour of the two, with Lady remembering some of things he has said or imagining what he would say when she finds herself hip deep in slaughter. Lady can never be said to be the softer, gentler one of the pair—if anything, she is even more ruthless, willing to put heads on stakes to make a point. Revenge is everything!

There really are no good guys in this series, just shades of black. It would be a shock to the system to try to jump in here at book 5, without having read the preceding novels—the level of violence and disregard for life would be overwhelming. But my situation is like the proverbial frog in the pot of water—it has gradually come to a boil without my noticing!

Now my search for a copy of Bleak Seasons must begin. I couldn’t abide a constant diet of grimdark fantasy in my reading life, but I must know what happens to this two bloodthirsty duo.

 

Book number 258 in my Science Fiction & Fantasy reading project.

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review 2017-05-18 15:19
Shadow Games / Glen Cook
Shadow Games - Glen Cook

 

After the devastating battle at the Tower of Charm, Croaker leads the greatly diminished Black Company south, in search of the lost Annals. The Annals will be returned to Khatovar, eight thousand miles away, a city that may exists only in legend...the origin of the first Free Companies.

Every step of the way the Company is hounded by shadowy figured and carrion-eating crows. As they march every southward, through bug infested jungle, rivers dense with bloodthirsty pirates, and cities, dead and living, haunted by the passage of the Company north, their numbers grow until they are thousands strong.

But always they are watched--by the Shadowmasters--a deadly new enemy: twisted creature that deal in darkness and death: powerful, shadowy creatures bent on smothering the world in their foul embrace. This is the first round in a deadly game, a game that the Black Company cannot hope to win.

 

A smattering of the Black Company still remains and they have decided to head back to their beginnings, heading south to the legendary city of Khatovar.  They are in search of the lost Annals of the Company, so you may be sure that this operation is being headed by our cranky Annalist, Croaker.

 

Croaker isn’t sure that he likes being in charge, but he shows an aptitude for it, thinking up sneaky surprises for the enemies that they encounter and showing that knowing some history gives a leader a good grasp of the many things that can go wrong.  He informs the reader that “I guess I suffer from an impoverishment of the sociopathic spirit necessary to go big time.”  He is selling himself short.

 

Finally, I see why so many other readers love Lady.  She is down, but not out.  She still has the governing touch and retains buckets full of knowledge about battle, administration, and politicking.  And she’s not afraid to use it.  A peek at the next book reveals that she will take up the pen as Annalist and I can hardly wait to get her take on things.

 

Book 258 of my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Project.

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text 2017-05-11 23:26
Found this free via booklikes deals (epic fantasy)
Sing the Four Quarters - Tanya Huff

Actually, this series has been on my planning to read someday list for a while.  So happy to see this first in series available free.

 

See the booklikes epic fantasy daily deals for others.

Source: booklikes.com/dailydeals/free/33/epic-fantasy
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text 2017-05-08 17:27
Reading progress update: I've read 150 out of 311 pages.
Shadow Games - Glen Cook

It's been a while since I rode with the Black Company.  Enjoying this adventure a lot.

 

Croaker is a sneaky old bastard.  I do love a guy who can plot & plan!

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