Friday, August 24, 2007
Dreams of Steel, by Glen Cook
Dreams of Steel
The Black Company has been decimated at Dejagore, Croaker is presumed dead, and as far as Lady knows she is only survivor. Lady, once the enemy of the Company, lately Croaker's Lieutenant and lover, is now Captain. In essence, she is the Company. Goblin, One Eye, and Murgen are nowhere to be seen. Lady sets about to rebuild the Company the only way she knows how: through terror and fear. Lady intends to fulfill the contract with Taglios and bring the annals south to Khatovar, but to do this she needs to rebuild the Company and destroy the Shadowmasters (some of her former Soultaken back when she was The Lady).
The major change of Dreams of Steel is that Croaker is no longer narrator. Rather, Lady narrates the tale and through her perspective we see the rebuilding of the Company and the violence and darkness required to do so. There is a mild shift of tone with Lady as narrator, but overall there is not a significant difference. It is still a Black Company novel and no matter who the narrator is the novel reads as such. That is to say: Blunt, to the point, military action, plotting, and flat out strong storytelling on Cook's part. What is truly different is that unlike the previous Black Company novels, in Dreams of Steel the Company is Lady. Croaker is out, and while we see reports of Goblin, One Eye, and Murgen, they are separated from Lady. The Company is essentially starting from scratch here. Lady does have help, though, from local assassin priests and the trio of Blade, Swan, and Mather whom we met in the last novel Shadows Linger. While the cast is different from before, there is a strong cast of characters here. Further, we get more hints and teases on the origins of the Company and it is one which may break Croaker's heart when he learns of it.
Dreams of Steel is a strong, fast paced novel. Five novels in Glen Cook is delivering powerful works of fiction and creating a series which should have far more recognition than it currently does. Whether at full strength or decimated, The Black Company is always worth reading about and Dreams of Steel is no different.
This is the Fifth Novel of the Black Company, the Second Book of the South, and the prelude to the Glittering Stone trilogy to wrap it all up. Dreams of Steel is worth every moment.