I was not impressed by this book. People speak very highly of it, and one of these people was Steven Erikson, the author of The Malazan Book Of The Fallen series. Now I quite enjoyed Malazan, and since I enjoy seeking out the influences of things I appreciate, I thought I'd better read me some Glen Cook. I wouldn't say that this decision was a mistake, but...I will say that I was underwhelmed.
The plot itself was adequate, but clumsily told. A mercenary company takes a commission with an evil wizard and becomes embroiled in a war. It's nothing spectacular as far as storylines go, but I don't necessarily require that to enjoy a book. No, I think my biggest problem with this novel was Cook's writing skill, or lack thereof. I mean, this is supposed to be a story told from a soldier's point of view, right? So...where are the descriptions of battle? Aside from the decently written siege at the end of the book (which was the only thing that kept me from giving this book a one-star rating), all the combat in the story is described in as rushed and slipshod a fashion as Cook writes his dialogue. The only things that were well-described in this book were the card games, which is a powerful argument for why ex-soldiers should not write fiction about being in the military.
One last gripe: the use of the word "heigth". Now, some of you may be thinking to yourselves, "Dude, I think you meant to type 'height,'" to which I reply, "Exactly." Cook uses the word "heigth" about four or five times in this novel, and it really started to drive me nuts. Shouldn't an editor have caught this? Perhaps Cook meant to convey the lexicon of a soldier, someone who uses improper words because they don't know any better, but if that were the case, why did Cook make Croaker use more polysyllabic verbiage than the average soldier would in some cases, and then in other cases..."heigth." And anyways, isn't Croaker supposed to be the company scribe? What, he constantly reads from and records in the annals of the Black Company but doesn't know how to spell the word height? Maybe, just maybe, Cook did this intentionally, but I think it more likely he's just a bad writer who doesn't know that "heigth" is not a fucking real word.