"Let me tell you who I am, on the chance that these scribblings do survive....I am Murgen, Standard bearer of the Black Company, though I bear the shame of having lost that standard in battle. I am keeping these Annals because Croaker is dead. One-Eye won't, and hardly anyone else can read or write. I will be your guide for however long it takes the Shadowlanders to force our present predicament to its inevitable end..."
So writes Murgen, seasoned veteran of the Black Company. The Company has taken the fortress of Stormgard from the evil Shadowlanders, lords of darkness from the far reaches of the earth. Now the waiting begins.
Exhausted from the siege, beset by sorcery, and vastly outnumbered, the Company have risked their souls as well as their lives to hold their prize. But this is the end of an age, and great forces are at work. The ancient race known as the Nyueng Bao swear that ancient gods are stirring. the Company's commander has gone mad and flirts with the forces of darkness. Only Murgen, touched by a spell that has set his soul adrift in time, begins at last to comprehend the dark design that has made pawns of men and god alike.
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
The ragged but effective group of sorcerers and soldiers known as "the Black Company" (Dreams of Steel, 1990, etc.) return in their sixth book, the first of a new trilogy. The members of the Black Company fight for hire as mercenaries, but also uphold a centuries-old tradition that includes solidarity and keeping a chronicle called "the Annals." Murgen, Standardbearer and current keeper of the Annals, narrates this story, with visions back and forth in time, often involuntary. Cook provides a rich world of assorted races, cultures and religions; his characters combine the mythic or exotic with the realistic, engaging in absorbing alliances, enmities and double-crosses. Unfortunately, all his good work is undercut somewhat by narrative dependence on the earlier books-which, after six years, most readers may not recall-and by a cliffhanger ending that won't be resolved until future books.