The Black Company: A Dark Fantasy Series About Mercenaries, Vile Sorcery, and Epic War

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

Growing up I was lucky enough to begin delving into reading fantasy right as the Harry Potter novels were being written. J.K. Rowling’s books taught me to love the magic of fantasy. To enjoy the clever spells, how magical culture could be cleverly integrated into the everyday world of the non-magic. They taught me to appreciate the fantastic creatures and people who have preserved their ways of life in, what seems to me, to be ever shrinking areas of the world. Most importantly these books instilled within me an everlasting appreciate of fantasy novels and stories in all their shapes and forms.

That being said, as an adult, it is sometimes hard to enjoy Harry Potter for what it was to a younger me. Given my profession, I pay a lot of attention to darker world events, such as incidents of terrorism, the possibility of war breaking out, and to what degree human rights are under threat in any given country. At some point, I dont know exactly when, I decided to give Dark Fantasy novels a try. Not much clicked with me, until I came across the work of Glen Cook.

At the tender age of 25 I came across a dogged-eared copy of The Black Company, published in May of 1984. A combination of epic fantasy and dark fantasy, it follows the doings of an elite mercenary unit as it abandons its employer, called the Syndic of Beryl, and instead enter into the employment of a dark wizard called Soultaker who is under the control of an evil Empire to the north led by the beautiful and deadly Lady. In the pages to follow Croaker, the main character and source of the novel’s viewpoint, exposes us to some of the most horrible events and people one might expect in a fantastical medieval setting. Without giving too much away, the reader is exposed to war crimes, assassination, intrigue, dark battles, and some of the worst motivations to which a fictional character might adhere. Uniquely, it also shows how individuals and groups will compromise on morals for the sake of survival. There are many shades of grey in this novel and those characters that live within it.

I bought each brand new omnibus once I could, and I eagerly devoured them all. Even though I have Kindle Unlimited, which I use to read the thousands of different kinds of fantasy books on Amazon for the small price of a monthly subscription to the service, I have still opted to buy the physical copies of each of the books. There is just something about holding these works of dark fantasy in your hands that makes the words and plots have that much more weight. To be that much more real. Moreover, I have recently learned that The Black Company is well on its way to becoming a TV show with Eliza Dushky playing the part of the Lady, perhaps as a result of how successful Game of Thrones was for HBO. Needless to say I am very excited for the prospect of see the words in the books coming visually to life.

If you want to experience the gritty magic that is The Black Company series, check out their books:

This article contains some affiliate links to books that I recommend that you read as part of the Black Company series or to enroll in Kindle Unlimited. If you choose to purchase these books, or sign up for Kindle Unlimited, via my affiliate links, you will help support my writing and research at no additional cost to you.

Charles writes on art, history, politics, travel, fantasy, science fiction, poetry. BA, MA in Political Science, Phd Pending. Inquires: charlesbeuck@gmail.com

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