Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Shadow Games (fifth novel in the Black Company series, counting The Silver Spike as fourth)

(Originally posted on Tuesday, 1 September 2009)

My rating: 7/10 (low re-reading value)
Please read my post from April 2009 to find out about my rating.
Please read my post from May 2009 to learn about Glen Cook’s style of writing.

Shadow Games is quite dissapointing compered to the origianl trilogy. The biggest problem for me was the same as the one I had with Shadow Lingers: I expected something similar to previous books and it turned out to be significantly different. The differences between Shadows Linger and The Black Company (both from the first trilogy) were much smaller than the differences between Shadow Games and any of those books.

The first difference is the feeling about the southern part of the world. In former books there was a quasi medieval setting, but in Shadow Games the setting is resembling middle east and sometimes far east. The climate is hotter and the world (cities, landscapes, people) look different. In some way this is good and realistic, because different parts of the world are not alike. I just felt more familiar in the medieval setting.

The biggest difference is that Glen Cook introduces religions. Not one religion but many different religions, which were totally nonexistent in the first trilogy. I think this aspect in Shadow Games would be annoying to most Black Company fans, whether they believe in God or not. It just doesn’t fit this series or fantasy books in general.

Besides there were some other issues I didn’t like:
1) Some characters who were supposedly killed in the first trilogy now turn up alive.
2) The travel south is described too quickly.
3) There is not so much action in this book.
4) The south society is a pacifistic one and the explanation for it is not believable.
5) There is an imp, which doesn’t fit the Black Company series at all.

The above mentioned issues spoiled the fun for me. The last part of the book is the best, but it’s too little too late. This time Glen Cook’s style of writing was not enough for me to rate Shadow Games any higher.
Nonetheless I rate this book quite high, because the core of the series – the Black Company and its old members remain unchanged. Moreover we get some interesting hints about the early history of the Black Company.

Please read Shadow Games as a transition book to a whole new story.
On its own this is a good (solid) book, but compared to the original trilogy its re-reading value is low.

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