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Title: With Mercy Towards None
Series: The Dread Empire: A Fortress in Shadow #2
Author: Glen Cook
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Format: Digital edition
The El Murid Wars that are referenced in the Cruel Wind trilogy.
These are a series of wars between El Murid and his captains and the northern kingdoms, not just against Haroun and his guerilla warfare group. A tide of warfare that sweeps in first one direction and then another.
Each side seems to be on the cusp of victory when something happens to reverse their fortunates. Talented generals die, politics interfere, etc, etc, etc.
We are also introduced to a young Mocker and see his rise and how he becomes intertwined with Ragnarson. We also see how Ragnarson goes from a mercenary recruit to a leader of his own mercenary group.
When I was reading the Cruel Wind trilogy I remarked how I felt that I was missing out because the characters were referring to certain incidents that we the reader had no idea about. Well, this A Fortress in Shadow duology answers all of those questions.
Glancing through other reviews, I’ve seen the word “sweeping history” used a lot and I have to admit, that is probably the best way to describe this book. At some points we get right down and dirty with the characters, seeing how they think, seeing events that shape their thinking and then we’ll suddenly zoom out and 2 huge battles that reverse the course of everything get 2 paragraphs. Cook is following a small group of individuals and really walks that line of showing their individual story within the context of the larger scope of all that is going on.
In many ways, it seems that Steven Erikson and his whole Malazan world is modeled more on this Dread Empire series than on Cook’s Black Company. By modeled on, I actually mean “wholesale lifted from”. I don’t know that I have seen so many ideas and plot points and characters and working out of things used so much so similarly. Of course, it could be that I’m just starting to get enough books under my belt to finally notice the cyclical nature of writing from one generation to another. Which wouldn’t be cool as I’d have to become an even more jaded, cynical and grouchy old coot to handle it.
The writing wasn’t quite as rough as the previous books but it was by no means a smooth vanilla coke zero.