Title: A Cruel Wind: A Chronicle of the Dread Empire
(omnibus containing A Shadow of All Nigh FallingOctober’s Baby, and All Darkness Met)
Author: Glen Cook
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Pages: 600
Rating: 3.5 of 5

Before creating the mercenary Black Company, Glen Cook wrote about the struggle between the deeply divided West and the Dread Empire of the East. The Western nations are nominally the “good guys”…mostly by virtue of our protagonists being from the West and the Dread Empire being efficiently expansionist and militaristic (and we are told repeatedly that they are “pure evil” though their actions aren’t demonstrably more so than the Westerners). The pettiness, scheming, brutal pragmatism, deep character flaws, and occasional atrocities of the Westerners make for a moral ambiguity that is typical Glen Cook dark fantasy.

This appears to be set in a different world than the Black Company novels, but Cook clearly developed a lot of his Black Company characters, plot devices, and writing style in these books (to say nothing of a character that Steven Erikson steals almost wholesale for use in his Malazan Book of the Fallen). The writing style is a bit rough with occasional awkward transitions, vague/incomplete descriptions that leave you saying “okay, what just happened?”, characters making literary/historical/religious allusions that don’t make much sense in their world, and a confusing profusion of people and places (with no maps). Nonetheless, if you like dark fantasy this is well worth a read: plenty of convoluted schemes, sorcery, battles, sudden and ignominious deaths of major characters, etc.

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3 thoughts on “Dark Fantasy East vs. West

  1. I am SO glad I’m not the only one confused with this. And I’m not sure how Cook isn’t suing Erikson for IP theft in the guise of Kruppe.

    I still have the 3rd one to read through [I’m done with shortchanging myself by counting omnibus editions as 1 book] so I’ll keep on expecting to be confused with vague or pointless info. Bleh….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The third one clears up quite a bit of what is going on, but the motive(s) of the one(s) behind it all still remain(s) a bit muddy. I feel that (unlike Erikson’s “Malazan”) some of the stylistic issues were as much poor writing style as they were deliberate obfuscation since Black Company is better (though still not a stylistic masterpiece).

      Liked by 1 person

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