Author Spotlight: Glen Cook and his Black Company

black-companyI’ve read a lot of fantasy. It is my favourite genre. This will be no surprise to anyone. It is also a genre that is filled with some pretty terrible books: formulaic, bland and boring. I love it, though, because it is a treasure trove of rich and rewarding stories. You simply need to sort the good from the bad. Some of the very best fantasy writers spurn the formula and create something new. I’m going to talk about one such author today. Glen Cook, and his Chronicles of the Black Company.Read More »

On the concept of power in fantasy, and the lowly foot soldier

I read a lot of fiction. I’ve read and loved many of the blockbuster fantasy epics, the cult hits and a lot of the lesser-known stuff too. I love these books, but there are blind spots in this genre. It is primarily because most novels follow a very similar formula when it comes to the treatment and distribution of power, especially in terms of the protagonist and their imprint upon the world. This isn’t a bad thing, but it leads to a significant paucity in alternative perspectives that can be just as interesting; they are perspectives that could and should be explored.

In familiar fantasy the protagonists are often exceptional in some way; be it through birth or an innate ability. Then they are set on a collision course with a rival power that will have dramatic and far-reaching implications. They are progressively infused and suffused with power, the power to fight, to rule, to conquer and to lead. Some books play around with this course of events a little, but in essence they all follow the same trajectory. But, there are certain books that have bucked this trend. I think that they are critically undervalued and some of the most interesting genre writing available today because of it.Read More »