Monday, December 24, 2007

She Is the Darkness, by Glen Cook

She Is the Darkness
Glen Cook

Murgen once again narrates this Chronicle of the Black Company. She is the Darkness is the second book of the Glittering Stone sequence which will wrap up the Black Company series, at least until Cook publishes more stories. The Company is under siege from Longshadow and The Howler and they are about to turn the tide of the battle through the rising powers of Lady and also through the timewalking of Murgen. I’ve read the book and Murgen’s odd ability doesn’t make any more sense to me, either. She is the Darkness keeps the Company pretty much all in one spot (except for Goblin, who is off doing something). Murgen is grieving the loss of his wife, Croaker and Lady are no longer desperate to get their child back but rather have focused on revenge against the Strangler who took their daughter. Kina, the Destroyer Goddess is influencing events and seeking to get back. Soulcatcher, the Taken we met in the first book and Lady’s sister, has her own agenda, and Croaker isn’t telling anybody anything.

I can imagine how confusing this may sound to someone with no familiarity with The Black Company, but I have to say that this is still confusing and I’ve read all of the Black Company novels. This was my biggest problem with She Is the Darkness. Because Murgen was kept in the dark about much of what was going on, the reader is kept in the dark. We see things through Murgen’s perspective and this is very limiting. Croaker even complains about how Murgen is writing the Annals (which is essentially what we are reading).

The events of the novel are unclear, there is a strong sense of dues ex machina running through the novel, and unlike previous novels there is a feeling of stagnation, that little is truly happening. That is, until the very end.

She Is the Darkness was simply a disappointing novel and one that if it were not part of the overall excellent Black Company sequence, I would have stopped reading midway through the book. The pacing is at a crawl, the explanations either obvious or non existent, very little action (in the sense that the characters are not really doing anything other than waiting), and the book is just not up to the standard of Cook’s earlier Black Company novels.

I have heard that the final two Black Company novels are much stronger than these last two I have read, so I still have hopes that Cook will wrap things up and deliver a good story.

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