To steal some of my favourite Glen Cook words from the first Black Company novel: Port of Shadows is misery curdled, but also new and interesting. The series of events in-between these covers are like a bottomless well filled with murky water. For a week now, I’ve amused myself plumbing this latest Glen Cook novel’s shadowy depths, trying to isolate fact from fiction, legend, and myth. No easy task, for the book’s damn author deals with the history of his fictional characters as a mad jester would, fully intent on confusing and providing no answers whatsoever on the one mystery I care about, above all others: just what is the deal with the Senjak sisters?
If you’ve read the original Black Company trilogy, Senjak will doubtlessly be familiar to you – it is the last name not only of the taken known as Soulcatcher but also of the Lady herself. The dynamics in the Senjak family have fascinated me for the whole duration of my two-year long romance with The Black Company series. Port of Shadows mercilessly strings the reader along in building a series of assumptions that will often go against the assumptions built in previous titles of the series. Alas, Glen Cook has never been one to say things outright, and I fear many of the questions we seekers of truth have, will remain unanswered.
But that’s enough bitching and moaning from me, at least on the topic of the Senjaks. Let’s talk about Port of Shadows in a wider context!
The Black Company by Glen Cook is the tale of the elite mercenary company’s trials during its contracted service with The Lady, a powerful sorceress and empress. The tale is conveyed in first person through the eyes of Croaker, a medic and higher up within the ranks of the company whom also serves as the keeper of the company’s annals.