Glen Cook – All Darkness Met

The third and last book of the Dread Empire Trilogy by Glen Cook is All Darkness Met (1980). This is a high-paced epic fantasy story where normal warriors clash with terrible and powerful sorcerous opponents in a large scale war. As posted before the first book was a bit messy and a bit overdone, but showing the strengths of Glen Cook. The second book brought more focus and a stronger story.

In All Darkness Met several years have passed again where the different opponents have licked their wounds and recovered. Cook sticks to the same style as the second book, which is a good thing, but upgrades the scale of the story, which weakens it again as there is too little time spent on the different characters. It remains a bit more superficial like With Mercy Toward None, the second book of the prequel. Like that book All Darkness Met is more of a concluding story with a fair number of characters falling away, sometimes quite suddenly.

Overall the third book is a little weaker than the second book. A middle book being the strongest is quite unusual but as each book contains a standalone story arc, typical for the way Cook writes, this is possible. As such the Dread Empire Trilogy cannot match itself against The Black Company novels, but as they were written several years earlier much is too be found which would crystallize into the core strength of that series. In that sense the trilogy is a nice experience for those who want to discover how Glen Cook developed.

The series itself contains many surprises and easily avoids many clich├ęs of fantasy. There is a good and evil side but each side has its different points of view. The large cast and twisting storyline can cause trouble for some inexperienced readers to keep it all together but it remains quite amazing how much story he manages to put into such a short novel. Doing this does lead to some sacrifices to be made, especially concerning characterization. The story moves on and there is little time to contemplate.

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