Chronicles of the Black Company is the first book in the series of Black Company written by Glen Cook who served in the U.S. Navy. Thanks to his military experience he was able to describe the life and behaviour of a typical soldier. The book tells a story about the Black Company, the last of the free Companies of Khatovar. The title mercenary group contains only the best soldiers who are battle-hardened after numerous victories. Once numbered in thousands but now there are only hundreds of those experienced warriors. Because of unusual events the Black company was dragged out of one conflict into another. Now in the name of evil Lady those elite mercenaries must crush the Rebels and it doesn’t matter who they sympatize with.
There are no self-proclaimed villains, only regiments of self-proclaimed saints.
The Company value it’s reputation and honor thus soldiers will do their best to complete their objectives. There are many likeable characters in this group, each one with interesting personality and weird nickname. The events of the story are described by company’s chronicler and physician Croacker. His job is to record all of the significant happenings that company takes part in. The most important members of the group are company’s wizards, Goblin along with One-Eye who support others with inventive illusions during battles and prank each other in the camp to the delight of others. The group is led by smart and cunning Captain with bear like demeanor and his excellent subordinates like Lieutenant and sergeant Elmo who is also Croacker’s best friend. With this elite cadre Black Company continues to build its reputation and is feared by almost everyone as it is the most effective army of the Lady.
Evil is relative… You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.
The best thing about Chronicles of the Black Company is in my opinion dark and realistic atmosphere and violent large scale battles. This story isn’t about stereotypical heroes defeating great dragons and villians but mercenaries fighting and dying for money. It shows that there are no two-dimensional people, the book is completely amoral and the atmosphere is overwhelminly dark. Glen Cook perfectly shows what means to be a regular soldier who fights hand in hand with his comrades and after battle rests with them by the fire while laughing and playing cards. By reading this book I could feel the difficulties of this dark fantasy world that those unyielding mercenaries was forced to face.