A group read with my fellow mercenaries Choko, Eilonwy, and Sarah.
The surviving members of the Black Company (this seems to be a common theme for the start of all books of the series) slowly biding their time carefully planning revenge on everybody who betrayed them in the last book. They keep reminding everybody the Company is beaten, but not killed. "Water sleeps, but your enemies don't"
is the main theme of the book.
Two very unlikely people had to fill the positions of Company's Captain and Lieutenant as well as annalist. The revenge is a dish better served cold and they delivered in spades. They messed up plans of mightiest sorcerers and rulers; they kept showing the world it is never worth the trouble to double-cross the Company. After all the Company survived quite a few immortal sorcerers, but quite a few immortal sorcerers had not survived the Company. I am talking about mostly simple soldiers backed up by a couple of witch-doctors (One-Eye was
trained as one).
We have a new annalist as all of the old ones are... well... busy (I am trying to avoid spoilers here). From the previous book it should be obvious who it is, but I will not reveal who it is. Suffice to say it is a broken person who found an accepting brotherhood among the mercenary band. Being a broken person, the annalist makes very impersonal tale, so personality-wise this tale has no hope of being equal to that of Croaker, Murgen, and especially Lady.
Does it mean the book is bad? Not in the least. The whole process of careful planning is great. The actual acts of revenge make up for some very intense moments. Goblin is the undisputed star of this installment; while reading one of the scenes in the beginning with his involvement I realized there is no power on Earth which would make me stop reading until the scene was over.
The mysterious people and entities finally spoke and their revelations while completely unexpected, cleared a lot of events happened after the Company went south. These explanations make obvious the series comes to an end and they were truly on the grand scale. We finally got to meet the last major player up close and personal.
So all in all the flat personality of annalist is completely overshadowed by the great action and overall picture of the happenings. I gave this book 5 stars after my first read and my reread left the rating unchanged. Haters gonna hate.