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SFF Author: Glen Cook

book review Glen Cook author(1944- )
Glen Cook is an American science fiction and fantasy author, best known for his fantasy series, The Black Company. Cook currently resides in St. Louis, Missouri.



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The Swordbearer: Read The Black Company instead

The Swordbearer by Glen Cook

The Swordbearer is an early standalone novel by Glen Cook, originally published in 1982 and re-released by Nightshade Books in 2009. If you’re a fan of Glen Cook, whose CHRONICLES OF THE BLACK COMPANY are classics of the genre, this would probably be an interesting read, as you’ll be able to see some of the author’s themes and quirks taking shape. However, taken on its own, The Swordbearer isn’t anywhere near as good as some of Glen Cook’s other works.

Gathrid, the main character,


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The Black Company: Fantastical, anti-heroic fog of war

The Black Company by Glen Cook

The Black Company is an ancient mercenary brotherhood, its members as hard-bitten as skilled. As their ongoing commission in the city of Beryl disintegrates, they escape through the “trap-door” (in its fullest sense) of new employment by a mysterious northern sorcerer; and they soon find themselves the elite unit in the army of the Lady — a legendary figure who, in the eyes of the opposing Rebels, is the embodiment of evil.

The first of Glen Cook’s Black Company novels,


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Shadows Linger: Hard boiled fantasy

Shadows Linger by Glen Cook

“Hard science fiction” focuses on the science of the story, often at the cost of character and plot. “Hard-boiled fiction” often features a cynical, jaded protagonist steadily battling against the forces of evil, but making little overall progress. The Black Company books are often categorized as military or dark fantasy, but perhaps “hard fantasy” would be more accurate, as Glen Cook combines the hard-boiled voice with classic fantasy tropes that we might expect to see in a board game.

The setting could not be any more “sword and sorcery” if it tried.


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The White Rose: Cook’s dare pays off

The White Rose by Glen Cook

The final entry in a trilogy requires something special. In fantasy, that usually means finding godly machinery and amassing armies that will face each other on some distant, volcanic plain while a small band of covert heroes pull off a daring, one-in-a-million scheme.

However, up to this point, Glen Cook’s Black Company series has stood out for its noir atmosphere more than its epic company of mercenaries. Surprisingly, in The White Rose, Cook sacrifices his hard-boiled narrative for an epic fantasy storyline.


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Shadow Games: The Black Company regroups

Shadow Games by Glen Cook

It’s been so long since the Black Company left Khatovar that the annals of that time are lost. Now, the campaigns in the North against the Dominator and the Taken — powerful sorcerers that vied against one another for world domination — destroyed everything but a handful of the Company’s soldiers. It’s time to regroup.

Croaker, a former physician and Company annalist, is now the Company’s Captain. The Company retains its history and its merciless tactics. Its two wizards, Goblin and One-Eye, are still alive,


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Port of Shadows: A disappointing return to a fan-favorite series

Port of Shadows by Glen Cook

After nearly two decades, Glen Cook has finally returned to his beloved BLACK COMPANY series with an eleventh novel — Port of Shadows (2018) — set between books one and two (The Black Company and Shadows Linger, respectively). I loved this series when I read it ages ago and therefore approached news of a new addition with both excitement and trepidation, as I’ve had some bad experience with authors revisiting beloved series after a long absence.


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Garrett for Hire: Collects three Garrett, P.I. adventures

Garrett for Hire by Glen Cook

Garrett for Hire is an omnibus edition of three books in Glen Cook’s popular GARRETT, P.I. series. These books are Deadly Quicksilver Lies, Petty Pewter Gods and Faded Steel Heat, books seven, eight and nine in the series, respectively. However, because each book fairly stands alone, I never felt that I was missing out on any important details by joining the series at the halfway point.


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The Tyranny of the Night: Give it time

The Tyranny of the Night by Glen Cook

The Tyranny of the Night has a lot of what one would expect from Glen Cook. A gritty atmosphere, a darkly wry sense of humor, a world-weary cynicism somehow melded with optimism, complex characters, a slowly engrossing story.

What doesn’t it have? A map for one. Would it have killed the publishers to spend a few bucks having someone draw one? I’d have taken an editor’s six-year-old kid’s drawing of one if I could have.


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Lord of the Silent Kingdom: Hugely complex

Lord of the Silent Kingdom by Glen Cook

In my review of Glen Cook’s first book in the Instrumentalities of the Night series, I bemoaned the lack of a map. Somehow, my opinion managed to go unheard and/or unheeded and so I’ll start again by asking if it would be too much to include a map in a book that jumps among a slew of kingdoms, countries, islands, and petty territories.

As a long-time fan of “epic” fantasy, I consider myself pretty well-versed in how to handle sweeping geography,


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Surrender to the Will of the Night: Best Instrumentalities novel yet

Surrender to the Will of the Night by Glen Cook

PLOT SUMMARY: Piper Hecht’s first and greatest secret is that he knows how to kill gods. It is knowledge that makes him dangerous, but also puts him in danger — from his enemies, who fear what he might do, or who want revenge for what he has already done; and from his friends, who want to use his knowledge for their own purposes.

For example, Piper’s sister Heris and his living ancestor  Cloven Februaren, the Ninth Unknown, have made Hecht part of their fight against the return of the dark god,


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Working God’s Mischief: Nearly gave up

Working God’s Mischief by Glen Cook

Working God’s Mischief is Glen Cook’s fourth installment in his THE INSTRUMENTALITIES OF THE NIGHT series. I had a mostly positive response to the opening novel, though it had its issues, but my pleasure waned somewhat through books two and three, leaving me to say at the end of my review of Surrender to the Will of Night that “the ratio between frustration and reward” was nearing the danger zone. Unfortunately,


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Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honor of Jack Vance

Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honor of Jack Vance edited by George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois

Songs of the Dying Earth: Stories in Honor of Jack Vance is the best anthology I’ve ever read. These stories will be enjoyed by any SFF reader, but they’ll be ten times more fun if you’ve read Jack Vance’s The Dying Earth, because they are all written in honor of that fantastic work. Each tale is written in the style of Vance,


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Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword & Sorcery

Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword & Sorcery edited by Jonathan Strahan & Lou Anders

Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword & Sorcery is a book I’ve been eagerly anticipating ever since it was first announced in 2009. I was particularly excited about the anthology’s impressive list of contributors which includes several authors I enjoy reading like Glen Cook, Greg Keyes, Scott Lynch, Joe Abercrombie, Garth Nix, Tim Lebbon, Caitlin R.


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Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy 2

Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy 2 edited by William Schafer

EDITOR INFORMATION: William K. Schafer is the head editor at Subterranean Press, which was founded in 1995. Schafer’s bibliography includes Embrace the Mutation: Fiction Inspired by the Art of J.K. Potter and the first Tales of Dark Fantasy anthology.

ABOUT SUBTERRANEAN: TALES OF DARK FANTASY 2: Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy — published in 2008 to widespread critical and popular acclaim — provided a unique showcase for some of our finest practitioners of dark,


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Neither Beg Nor Yield: Stories With S & S Attitude

Neither Beg Nor Yield: Stories With S&S Attitude by Jason M. Waltz (editor) & M.D. Jackson (illustrator)

I don’t know how aware SFF fandom is, but sword & sorcery has had a resurgence of late. Jason M. Waltz and most of the authors featured in Neither Beg Nor Yield have been champions of this subgenre, some for the past quarter century. Mr. Waltz first published sword & sorcery and other great heroic and weird fiction with Flashing Swords Press and later under his own micro-press, Rogue Blades Entertainment.


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Next SFF Author: Hugh Cook
Previous SFF Author: Deborah Cooke

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