Archive for January 21st, 2011

Glen Cook – The Silver Spike

Friday, January 21st, 2011

We return yet again to the gritty and dark world of the Black Company, where bands of mismatched soldiers battle against the odds with dark sorcerers and many are only out for their own gain.

At the end of The White Rose some characters split up. In Shadow Games we followed one group, in The Silver Spike (1989), Glen Cook puts his attention to the other characters. The Silver Spike was published between Shadow Games and its sequel Dreams Of Steel, but I follow the order of the omnibus edition The Books Of The South, which is also preferable as Shadow Games and Dreams Of Steel should be read in one go. In Shadow Games some vague hints were given about the events in The Silver Spike, so it is a nice discovery to find out what it was about.

Like the other novels in The Books Of The South, Cook has several viewpoints in the story, although he sticks to a single first person narrator. In this case it is odd, because he is no Annalist, recording the events of the Black Company. Why Cook chose to do so I don’t know, but in the greater context he shouldn’t have. It just gives a odd feeling.

As we are used with Cook, there is much story in the book and the events are darker and moodier than before. It is also a much more straightforward and predictable story. There are some twists but they are not that impressive.

In his previous books Cook managed to present some strong and defined characters, but here there is no time or space to do so. Perhaps this is caused by the many viewpoints, which leave the reader less time to get into the characters. With the dramatic events that unfold it doesn’t leave that much impact.

The behaviour and actions of the characters felt sometimes odd to me, especially when one can compare some to their abilities in the previous books. Some act surprisingly weak while others show far greater skills.

Overall this is the weakest book I have read by Glen Cook. The story is still entertaining and original, but it lacks strength, has a number of minor flaws and doesn’t manage to grab hold of the reader as well as the others did, partially because he doesn’t manage to flesh out the characters sufficiently. For a fan of the Black Company this book is still a must-read, but it is a fairly stand-alone story in comparison to the other Books Of The South. I will still recommend it as it is still a better than average fantasy novel.