I must admit that I find it rare that I encounter a new fiction author whose work I really like. Glen Cook is someone I can happily now add to that list. The Black Company is the story of a mercenary group that finds itself between a rock and a hard place. Morally and literally at times. As swords for hire, they don't always get to choose who their employer is (or do they?). There are three stories in this collection. The first is an introduction to the group and to the general plot, where they work for a great evil in order to fight the rebels who are trying to overthrow that evil. There is more to the story than that, but I don't want to spoil anything. I found that first story to be a little scattered, but enjoyable. The second story follows the events of the first, and features more moral dilemmas as well as some genuinely creepy business. I enjoyed it the most out of the three stories, and would rate it as one of the best fantasy stories I've read in a long time. That's not to say I didn't enjoy the final story, it was good too. It just wasn't as excellent as the second story was for me.
I know I'm being vague, but I really don't want to give anything away. I can say that this book reads like a David Drake military fiction book (or Starship Troopers if you like) mixed in with a RE Howard Conan-type world of magic (it's rare and dangerous stuff) that's mixed in with some HP Lovecraftian-evil that can curl your toes. Some of the stuff they work with (and against) is nasty, otherworldly, bizarre, and scary. Which makes this a very good series to read for me! It's written mostly from the first-person perspective using the voice of the Company's historian, Croaker. There is a good amount of action in the stories, but they aren't combat heavy in the way that Howard's or Drake's stories are. More action than in Starship Troopers for sure, but the fights tend to be brief, violent, and lethal. Which I suppose is more accurate, if somewhat less dramatic. But that doesn't take away from the book as, in my opinion, the characters and the question of good versus evil that they continuously raise, are the stars of this series. Apparently the book is also quite popular among soldiers for its accurate portrayal of military life.
So if you're looking for good fiction, good fantasy fiction, or if you are a fan of David Drake, Robert E Howard, or HP Lovecraft, then I have no hesitation in recommending this series to you. I myself and very much looking forward to reading the next books in the series as I'm new, but avid fan of the Black Company. It's rare that I get the pleasure of reading something that I really want to sink my teeth into, so here's hoping that The Black Company does the same thing for you!