Even though I haven’t posted here, in my reading/writing blog for some time, I’m sticking to it. I’m coming back and journaling my most recently finished book, which I’ve had finished for a few weeks, but have not had the time to blog it.
The Chronicles of the Black Company
Omnibus of the first three books in the Black Company series
I read this book in a strange circumstance. I read the second omnibus (last three books) before this one. So I already knew the characters, and what would happen to them in the future. Cook so dutifully referenced and explained many of the events of the first book in the second, I could say to myself, “ah yes, I remember this,” as I came across new scenes. This is a rather disappointing way to read a book. So I’m chalking up my less-than-thrilled reaction to that.
While not making for good reading, reading out of order made for good studying. I could see how he dips back to describe old events in the here-and-now later on–the amount of detail and action he needed to evoke the memory but not to go off on too much of a tangent.
Reading out of order also presented another odd reaction in me. I liked the characters more, and quicker upon starting the second book than the first. I also thought they were more fully introduced and described going into the second than the first. I would have thought this would be the other way around. But again, I got a lesson from this. Cook had probably gotten more into the characters’ heads after three books, and better knew how to introduce them later on. And also, he didn’t stop popping in insights and descriptions of them no matter how far into the story he got.
Another theory on my more intense character attachment later in the series is that they started different, more important roles in the beginning of the second book. One thing Cook is known for is telling stories from the point of view of the common man instead of kings, princes and heroes. In the first book, the characters are all no-ones in a mercenary outfit, however they are doing important things. Yet by the second book, they all of a sudden take on new, more important roles. I don’t want to put in spoilers here, so I won’t be specific. I’d almost argue that they aren’t “the common man” anymore. Yes they still have their roots in peasantdom, but they have considerable power over others via reputation, which draws them up in society. This seems just a little contrary to the “common man” motif Cook is known for.
So after reading the middle through the end, and then the beginning to the middle, I felt a little let down by the end of the first book. This was a major turning point in the series, and their world too. There was build up, and foreshadowing tension and suspense throughout the book, and I knew what was coming. But what I was interested in was how it would happen. And, I’ll say again, it didn’t seem like much. I think he could have written it “bigger.” What it boils down to is two, or three people fighting, be they gods or beggars, it still kinda looks the same. When you watch, or read about, an even match, it doesn’t look like much. What makes it impactful is the sense of importance the author imbues in it, which is directly related to the buildup of suspense/tension. What will happen if the good guys win? The bad? What are the implications? We knew what these were, but didn’t really see, at the end of the book, what the fallout was.
Recalling the beginning of the second book, that is where the fallout occurred. Cook structured his books, his six book series, to keep the readers buying. But for me, who read them out of order, it just made it fell flat.
Fantasy: Little, Big – John Crowley
Scholarly: The Mabinogi – Patrick K. Ford
Writing:(I’m slacking here)