Reading is FUNdamental #1: The Black Company.

Now, right off the bat, I know some one is going to question how exactly a series of sword and sorcery fantasy novels counts towards a comic book blog. Well here’s my logic:

Conan (of The Barbarian fame) started out as a series of sword and sorcery fantasy stories (later collected in book form) that served as the basis for further Conan adventures in novel form. Later on, Conan had his own comic book. Based on that flimsy excuse, I’m establishing the Conan rule, and declaring sword and sorcery fantasy books fair game. Plus I just got done reading (in some cases, re-reading) these, and think they’re worth sharing:

Epic sword and sorcery adventure, only stripped of the “epic” aspect. It’s kind of like reading dispatches from the front lines of a war, it just happens to be a war where there are wizards and flying carpets and shape shifters. Characters just die; there’s no going out in a glorious blaze of heroic glory, there will be a battle, or one of the narrators (each book gets a different one) will be doing something somewhere else, and afterward someone will just say “yeah while you were out doing that these 3 bad ass characters and this one really nasty but cool sounding villain all died” (and there are LOTS of cool sounding villains, most of whom get short shrift due to the books’ style). Plenty of plot twists and turns, and lots of switching sides.

Tor Books has reissued the entire series in 4 very nice omnibus editions: The Chronicles of The Black Company, The Books of The South: Tales of The Black Company, The Return of The Black Company, and The Many Deaths of The Black Company.

Bleak Seasons (the first book collected in Return, along with She Is The Darkness; why they didn’t list those on the cover really irks the layout continuity police that live inside my head) is the toughest to get through because the premise is that the narrator for that book keeps jumping through time ala Lost. And I admit, the historical war fiction slant at times can make the series itself a bit tough to get through, as it tends to make things kind of dry every so often. But I promise, if you’re patient, it’s all well worth the read. One of my favorite fantasy series ever.



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