fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsbook review Tyranny of the NightThe 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. This book covers some serious geography and does so in such back-and-forth fashion that not having a map handy is almost unconscionable.

Almost as necessary — a glossary of characters. I almost never turn to them when they appear in other works, but in Tyranny Cook hop scotches among so many people — major characters, minor characters, minor characters who become major characters — that I sometimes lost track a bit of just who was who. Throw in the usual factional infighting, double-crossing, and double-double-crossing and it made things all the more confusing. Not throw up your hands and quit reading confusing, things never got that bad, but stop reading for a moment and try to recall who you’re reading about and maybe even page back some chapters to make sure kind of confusing.

But if the major flaws are the lack of a map and a glossary, then one doesn’t have too much to complain about. That isn’t to say The Tyranny of the Night doesn’t have other issues. The story takes a while to get going and one wishes Glen Cook had perhaps winnowed down some of the characters, geography, and storylines at least at the start to allow a deeper sense of immersion for the reader. And magic’s use and place in the world never feels quite pinned down, quite all the way there.

The story is too involved to summarize but think medieval setting plus advent of better weaponry technology plus corrupt church plus crusades plus a Holy Land that fountains magic into the world plus old gods trying to hang on to their shrunken existence even as the new God threatens to swallow them whole and you have a basic idea of the context. Toss in a major character who is sent into the West to infiltrate their counsels and try so sow obstacles in the path of a corrupt Patriarch eager to send a crusading army into the Holy Land, only to find himself rising to higher and higher levels of authority until he ends up commanding an army invading his own people and you have a sense of the major storyline. Not to mention the side-stories involving Norse Gods, Soultaken, creeping ice, once-powerful spirits now feeling threatened by technology, the competition between two competing Patriarchs, internal strife in several major kingdom’s, and the main character’s fear that his leader that sent him on this mission hopes he gets killed along the way. Ok, we’ll mention them but not go into them.

The Tyranny of the Night, with its many characters and places is a tough start, but give it time. Get past the lengthy introduction of just who is who and where is where (did I mention a map and glossary would help?) and the book becomes richly rewarding, leaving you eager for its continuation. Happily recommended.

~Bill Capossere

book review Glen Cook The Tyranny of the Night I have read Glen Cook’s Black Company series and enjoyed them. So, The Tyranny of the Night had some fairly high standards for me to compare it against. I will say up front that I really liked the book.

The story revolves around three (maybe one or two more) characters and their involvement with a major crusader war. The perspectives of the characters are very different — one is a warrior/spy, one’s a priest, and one’s a barbarian raider who has been touched by his gods as their avatar.

I found the backstory for The Tyranny of the Night to be just a bit incomplete. Magic is around, but it seems to be drawn from manipulating the dark forces, who are also the same forces that the gods spring from. Now it seems the mortals can become gods and that mortals can also kill gods, but the exact how and why remain a bit confusing.

At times I felt like I was reading Erikson without the grand scope and scale. There is some humor, some politics, some vulgarity, just a little bit of everything without boring you with too many details.

I look forward to the next Instrumentalities book and hope that Glen Cook can clean things up just a bit so that the story moves a little faster.

~John Hulet

Instrumentalities of the Night — (2005-2014) Publisher: Welcome to the world of the Instrumentalities of the Night, where imps, demons, and dark gods rule in the spaces surrounding upstart humanity. At the edges of the world stand walls of ice which push slowly forward to reclaim the land for the night. And at the world’s center, in the Holy Land where two great religions were born, are the Wells of Ihrain, the source of the greatest magics. Over the last century the Patriarchs of the West have demanded crusades to claim the Wells from the Pramans, the followers of the Written. Now an uneasy truce extends between the Pramans and the West, waiting for a spark to start the conflict anew. Then, on a mission in the Holy Land, the young Praman warrior Else is attacked by a creature of the Dark — in effect, a minor god. Too ignorant to know that he can never prevail over such a thing, he fights it and wins, and in so doing, sets the terrors of the night against him. As a reward for his success, Else is sent as a spy to the heart of the Patriarchy to direct their attention away from further ventures into the Holy Lands. Dogged by hidden enemies and faithless allies, Else witnesses senseless butchery and surprising acts of faith as he penetrates to the very heart of the Patriarchy and rides alongside their armies in a new crusade against his own people. But the Night rides with him, too, sending two of its once-human agents from the far north to assassinate him. Submerged in his role, he begins to doubt his faith, his country, even his family. As his mission careens out of control, he faces unanswerable questions about his future. It is said that God will know his own, but can one who has slain gods ever know forgiveness?

Instrumentalities of the Night The Tyranny of the Night, Lord of the Silent Kingdom Instrumentalities of the Night The Tyranny of the Night, Lord of the Silent Kingdom 3. Surrender to the Will of the Night Instrumentalities of the Night The Tyranny of the Night, Lord of the Silent Kingdom 3. Surrender to the Will of the Night fantasy and science fiction book reviews


  • Bill Capossere

    BILL CAPOSSERE, who's been with us since June 2007, lives in Rochester NY, where he is an English adjunct by day and a writer by night. His essays and stories have appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other literary journals, along with a few anthologies, and been recognized in the "Notable Essays" section of Best American Essays. His children's work has appeared in several magazines, while his plays have been given stage readings at GEVA Theatre and Bristol Valley Playhouse. When he's not writing, reading, reviewing, or teaching, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course or the ultimate frisbee field.

    View all posts
  • John Hulet

    JOHN HULET is a member of the Utah Army National Guard. John’s experiences have often left a great void that has been filled by countless hours spent between the pages of a book lost in the words and images of the authors he admires. During a 12 month tour of Iraq, he spent well over $1000 on books and found sanity in the process. John lives in Utah and works slavishly to prepare soldiers to serve their country with the honor and distinction that Sturm Brightblade or Arithon s’Ffalenn would be proud of. John retired from FanLit in March 2015 after being with us for nearly 8 years. We still hear from him every once in a while.

    View all posts