The Black Company – A Complete Reading Chronology *Updated*

Note: Update(s) at bottom. 

Good day, everyone! With all the new content from our contributors, I thought it was time I released a little something myself while I continued to work on my other column ideas for the Thoughts. For today, I thought another short post about the Black Company books by Glen Cook was in order. I’m not going to stop until I make readers out of some of my followers and friends.

Moving forward from what I started with my post on Croaker awhile back, I wanted to present all of you with an accessible reading chronology for the series, being as I found it difficult to keep straight what order some books should be read in. There doesn’t seem to be that much out there about the series these days, what with it wrapping up over a decade ago.

1. The Black Company (1984) – The first book in the series is a classic unto itself and is a great introduction to Glen Cook’s world.
2. Shadows Linger (1984)
3. The White Rose (1985)

Cover image from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/9/91/The_White_Rose.jpg
Cover image from Wikimedia.

The first trilogy of books, often called the Books of the North, have also been collected in The Chronicles of the Black Company.

4. The Silver Spike (1989) – This one is a bit of a misfit. It chronicles the adventures of a side group of characters after the company parted ways at the end of the third book. Various lists place it as either first or last in the second trilogy. I actually read it in between the following two books.
5. Shadow Games (1989)
6. Dreams of Steel (1990)

The second trilogy of books, often called the Books of the South, have also been collected in The Books of the South: Tales of the Black Company. These stories, generally speaking and avoiding spoilers, explore the adventures of the Black Company as it seeks to return to the lost city of Khatovar far to the south from which its original incarnation emerged centuries earlier.

7. Bleak Seasons (1996)
8. She is the Darkness (1997)

Image courtesy of Wikimedia and comes from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/8/83/She_Is_The_Darkness.jpg
Cover image from Wikimedia.

These books, the first two of the four-part Glittering Stone, have also been collected in The Return of the Black Company.

9. Water Sleeps (1999)
10. Soldiers Live (2001) – Here’s to hoping the last book is as hopeful as its title suggests.

The last two books of Glittering Stone have also been collected in The Many Deaths of the Black Company.

Cover image from http://jacketupload.macmillanusa.com/jackets/high_res/jpgs/9780765324016.jpg
Cover image from MacMillan.

There are also a few short stories set in the same world. I’ll admit, though, I’m not familiar with them but plan on adding them on after I complete the novels.

1. “Raker” (1982) – Apparently, this is an early version of an early chapter from the first book.
2. “Tides Elba” (2010) – Appeared in Swords & Dark Magic: The New Sword and Sorcery.
3. “Smelling Danger” (2011) – Appeared in Subterranean: Tales of Dark Fantasy 2.

Glen Cook has also talked about two more possible novels in the series if he can get around to writing them.

A Pitiless Rain – Forthcoming with little known.

Port of Shadows – Forthcoming with little known.

I hope this list will be helpful to any of you looking to get into this classic fantasy series. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

UPDATE (5-24-19): 

I was curious to see an uptick in traffic to this old post, so I wanted to go ahead and make some additions to it on releases since I first wrote this list:

“Shaggy Dog Bridge” was released in 2013 in Fearsome Journeys: The New Solaris Book of Fantasy, and is set between Shadows Linger (Book Two) and The White Rose (Book Three).

“Bone Candy” was released in 2014 in Shattered Shields. It takes place after “Tides Elba,” which takes place after The Black Company (Book One), but before Port of Shadows (Book One-and-a-Half).

“Bone Eaters” was released in 2015 in Operation Arcana, edited by John Joseph Adams of Lightspeed Magazine. It is set right after “Shaggy Dog Bridge” before The White Rose.

Port of Shadows was released on September 11th, 2018. It is set between The Black Company (Book One) and Shadows Linger (Book Two), so feel free to read it whenever!

At this point, we’re still waiting on A Pitiless Rain and any other short stories that may come about. I know this addendum isn’t the most convenient way to absorb this information, so I will be remaking this post in the near future. Either way, I hope this helps out new readers!

 

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