Actually, I’ve finished The Black Company proper, that is, the first novel in the trilogy comprising the “Books of the North.” These books came out in the mid-80’s and were the first fantasy books to focus on grunts in a fantasy military setting. You’ll find no princes, kings, high sorcerers or queens here. The highest ranking character you’ll encounter is a Captain in the Black Company, a highly touted mercenary group.
I have to say, the first book was slow at times as it was hard to learn about the characters. But, by the end of the book, I had a pretty good handle on the main ones and was enjoying their exploits. I get what the author was trying to do by only showing us the grunts’ perspective, but I find myself annoyed as a reader that I don’t have a sense of what is going on in the larger scheme of things. Maybe that’s Cook’s point – that’s annoying to the common soldier, too.
Cook writes in a short style. Clipped, even. Sentences are not long. Or complicated. Or even whole. At times it is a bit much. At other times it’s enjoyable. Refreshing, too.
I like how the books are broken into shorter sections that describe episodes and scenes – because the book doesn’t have an over arching plot that is prevalent (it is present, just not the main point) these scenes are really all you are given and the book needed to be written in this way to be at all successful.
I’m halfway through the second book (I have the omnibus collection) now and I think the writing has improved and the style refined a bit. We’ll see how that carries through into the final book of the trilogy. All in all, not terrible, not mind-blowingly good either. But important, because it taught future authors an important literary technique.