Most fantasy is rather black and white, good and evil is easily identified. But Cook plays another game, the main characters in his Black Company series are only the good guys because the author writes from their viewpoint. The Company is a mercenary unit, giving alliance to those who pay. When the Company enters the domain of the Lady, a mighty sorceress, they are hired by Soulcatcher, one of The Ten Who Were Taken.
The Taken were once upon a time mighty sorcerers themselves, but the most powerful of them all, the Dominator, made them his servants. The Dominator created an Empire, but he was neutralized by the White Rose, and his wife, the Lady, took over. But without the mighty power of the Dominator to control them, The Ten Who Were Taken conspire secretly against each other and the resistance movement against the Lady and the Taken, who are hers now, is growing. And her former husband the Dominator is still not completely dead.
In my opinion one of the best fantasy trilogies ever written. The great strength of the Black Company series are its characters, Croaker, Raven, The Ten Who Were Taken, the Lady and many more, and their ambivalent nature. It is never clear who is really the enemy, former friends can go wrong, and often the ‘heroes’ have to work together with those they deem evil to stop something even worse. Despite their gray nature, it’s easy to root for most characters, Cook’s writing brings them to life, makes them real. And there’s also the plot, you can’t be sure what’s coming next or where the ride is going, but it’s always worth it.
The Black Company (1984)
Shadows Linger (1984)
The White Rose (1985)