I first became acquainted with Glen Cook’s work because of a stranger’s recommendation in a bookstore on a snowing winter afternoon. I was looking for something to ride out what became one of my state’s worst winter storms and was in the process of purchasing books by Robert Jordan and David Eddings, a man standing near me notice what I was getting and asked if I had tried Glen Cook, the particular book he pointed to had a cover that would have looked more at home sitting next to a Ross McDonald book. It showed a fedora sporting character and a leggy blond, it just happed to include a centaur and an dwarf . I bought it based on the cover and the recommendation. It’s odd that my introduction to Mr. Cook was through the one series that is least like the others. Mostly Mr. Cook writes military science fiction and fantasy. He is best known for the Black Company and Dread Empire series. His fantasy/PI series, The Garrett Files, is less well known and a lot lighter in spirit.
This book is a stand-alone book. It is military fantasy, although with a mid-eastern type setting rather than the more standard western European one. The book is a very easy read with one exception. Rather than focusing on large military battles, this book focused more on political intrigue, double-crosses, secret maneuvering and assassinations, waiting until near the end to give us an all out battle. The issue I mentioned, and it may just be me, but there were several instances where a character would have a name
very similar to another and I would read half a page, puzzled, only to realize I had misread the name.
The basic plot is that long ago a powerful mage/priest was leader of a nation. While at war with another nation, during a major assault, a wizard/assassin attacked and kills him. The leader’s wife, a witch, freezes the two at the last moment of combat. This is the prolog. The action in the book takes place years later as four forces maneuver for control of a major city-nation. One seeks revolution, one the status quo and the other two work for their own ends. The city is in an uproar as someone is kidnapping children
and keeping them for a time only for the children to later be found wandering the city with no memory of the incident left. When a great leader of a nomadic mercenary force arrives with his men to shore up the military presence of the city, and a new governor takes over, the city catches fire.
I enjoyed this book, so far Mr. Cook has never disappointed me. Other than the confusion of similarly named characters I had no issues with the book, it was well paced and interesting.