Glen Cook – The White Rose

I start the new year with a review of The White Rose (1985) by Glen Cook, the third novel about the Black Company and the conclusion of the highly recommended previous novels The Black Company and Shadows Linger.

As in the second book several years have passed as the start of the novel where some major changes turned the world around for the Black Company. Although the situation looks like it’s still far from closure, Cook again shows how he ignores cliches and turns things for the unexpected. Again he varies his style by introducing new narratives. Not only provide these a variation of settings but also prepare us for what is to come later. In that way we uses a similar trick as in Shadows Linger, but he does it in a different way.

The world of the Black Company is not black and white but various shades of gray. This aspect plays an even larger role in this book. Funnily enough there are some extreme black and white aspects which forms a peculiar contrast. In a way one can say that absolutes exist but in between those absolutes nothing is absolute.

In the previous books character development didn’t play an important role, but in The White Rose it does. Characters change or make choices that are sometimes not expected. The final of the ‘trilogy’ has elements that you get to expect but also has some twists that allow for a certain conclusion. As there are more novels to follow, I can tell that some open strands remain.

In the first two books the world of the Black Company had some peculiar things but overall it did not contain that much weird stuff. In the third book he adds a fair number of interesting creatures and environments. Some were hinted at in the first book, but kept so vague that there was little to wonder. Now we learn much more. It was certainly a nice addition. I’m interested if the next books will contain more like it.

The plot moves faster than the second book, but far from as fast as the first. Cook keeps up his concise style and the prose keep at the level of the previous books. The White Rose is somewhat capable to stand on its own, but as it concludes the stories of the earlier books it is better to have read those first. Again I can only fully recommend this third book as well. The next books have already been ordered, so I only need to be a little patient until I can continue the story of the Black Company.

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