This collection of three Black Company novels tells the story of the Company's journey out of the North, into the South, and how the Company came to fight the Shadowmasters. For several reasons, this isn't as cohesive a volume as "The Books of the North," but it still represents some of the best work done in military sci-fi/fantasy. Fans of the Black Company should pick this up for their bookshelves. Newcomers will also find a lot to like, but I'd recommend starting with "The Books of the North" or skipping straight to the Glittering Stone storyline.
"Shadow Games" is set-up book, telling about the mercenary Black Company's flight from the North after its near-destruction at the end of "The White Rose." Still narrated by physician/historian/Captain Croaker, it feels very much like the first three books. The story is very episodic, in keeping with the storytelling mechanic of having Croaker tell the Company's history in the Annals. As with the previous three novels, a lot happens here, and there's not a single paragraph you can afford to skip.
"Dreams of Steel" shifts the narration to Lady, who is either your most or least favorite character. Either way, there's no denying that she's fascinating, and telling the story from her perspective was a great way for Cook to compress events. Instead of Croaker's style of telling a three-month tale in the space of a single chapter, Lady provides more detail, and this novel covers a lot less territory as a result. This is the only novel Lady narrates, and it sets up the events of "Bleak Seasons" (which, I hope, will come out soon in a "Glittering Stone" collection).
A previous reviewer named "The Steel Spike" as her personal favorite, and I'm glad to hear I'm not alone there. It's a "by the way" story, following some of the characters who left the Black Company after the events of "The White Rose." Many are our old favorites, and this book is their swan song. This is the last we see of Raven, Silent, and Darling. It's narrated by a new character, someone from outside the Company, and I actually found Case's narration to be a lot more engaging than any of the others Cook has used; it's a lot more conversational and personal, and gives us an outsider's perspective on the culture of the Black Company. "The Steel Spike" doesn't strictly follow the story of the Company's transition to the South, but it fits with this collection as a way of tying up the last of the story threads from the first volume.
Overall, this is not The Black Company at its best, but it's still miles better than most other fantasy fiction. The gritty realism and themes we expect from Glen Cook are all here, as is the persistent refusal to classify any of our protagonists as "evil" or "good." (This is most obvious when we see the world through Lady's eyes in "Dreams of Steel.") It's still the story of soldiers, sorcerers, and the people caught in the midst of a struggle they don't even try to understand. Highly recommended for fans of engaging, realistic fantasy.