• Shadow Games

  • Chronicles of the Black Company, Book 4
  • By: Glen Cook
  • Narrated by: Marc Vietor
  • Length: 9 hrs and 40 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (1,647 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

After the devastating battle at the Tower of Charm, Croaker leads the greatly diminished Black Company south, in search of the lost Annals. The Annals will be returned to Khatovar, 8,000 miles away, a city that may exists only in legend...the origin of the first Free Companies.

Every step of the way, the Company is hounded by shadowy figured and carrion-eating crows. As they march every southward, through bug infested jungle; rivers dense with bloodthirsty pirates; and cities, dead and living, haunted by the passage of the Company north, their numbers grow until they are thousands strong. But always they are watched by the Shadowmasters, a deadly new enemy. They are twisted creatures that deal in darkness and death, powerful, shadowy creatures bent on smothering the world in their foul embrace.

This is the first round in a deadly game, a game that the Black Company cannot hope to win.

Listen to more in the Black Company series.
©1989 Glen Cook (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Shadow Games

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Lots of Fun

I've been listening to a few audio books lately that while were good always felt like a bit of work to get through, that was not the case with Shadow Games.

First off let me say you really don't want to start your Black Company experience here. While Cook does a very good job of allowing this book to be an intro to the series it really will shine in it's proper place as #4.

Following Croaker from book 1 to now you really get a great feel for the guy and are either really interested in his journey or have given up before now. This books picks up right from 3 and does a good job of answering a lot of lingering questions you may have had.

It has as much action as the previous books and brings back enough of the past characters to keep you attached to the events while also adding in enough new gems to keeps things fresh.

Don't get me wrong there book is not perfect. My main gripe relates to the mystery surrounding the villains. It makes some sense but it also is annoying that Cook couldn't come up with better.

Vietor does a great job as always of voicing Croaker and I always felt his performance fit. I have more to add but I want to avoid spoilers even the most obvious ones.

All in all this is a fun read and if you are into the Black Company or this kind of military fantasy style you would really enjoy it.

6 people found this helpful

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New Life

This book yields new life to this series. It draws one back to this story with a vengeance and it is totally worth listening to.

2 people found this helpful

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Shadow Games for sure

Croaker's in charge of the Black Company on a path south to Khatovar. Down to a company of seven, it recruits along the way introducing us to a few new characters. One-Eye and Goblin have to be at the top of their game with their wizardry skills, while adding comedic relief to the story. The Lady is still adjusting to the loss of her powers, but seems to have a hidden agenda with new allies. Lots of mystery surrounding the Shadowmasters, crows and a shadowy figure following Croaker. It all leads up to a bloody battle and a heck of a cliffhanger.

1 person found this helpful

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Don't jump on this one too fast!

First of all, I just want to state my opinion that even though this is listed as book 4 (and was written in that order) you should probably think about reading book 5, The Silver Spike, BEFORE this one. Shadow Games starts a brand new story arc that will take you far from the events of The White Rose. The Silver Spike however, is directly related to The White Rose, so you will want to have those events fresh in your memory.

The Silver Spike is also a MUCH better book than Shadow Games.

Perhaps I could just use a break from shotgunning the series on long car rides home, but Shadow Games really starts to feel a little draining. So far this was the only book in the series that I could not wait for the end.

That said, things do get quite a lot more interesting towards the end of the book. But along the way you are introduced to a plethora of new characters that are difficult to care about, racist stereotypes, and a whole culture of hard to pronounce/differentiate fantasy names. When you get to Tagliose, do yourself a favor and start picturing them as analogues to the middle-east/India, it will save you the confusion when listening to the next audiobook. Perhaps they were meant to be this from the beginning but i missed it due to boredom? I don't know...

Also, be prepared to dig your fingers into your steering wheel in frustration as de-powered ladies make way for the menz to step up their commander game.

2 people found this helpful

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great book

great book you can see Cook getting better at writing his endgame battles here it was verg fun to visualize

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New Territory

Impressed as always with Marc Vietor’s flawless performance! The Silver Spike (or The White Rose, depending on your reading order) is a tough act to follow, and this novel shifts a bit away from traditional Black Company blood-sweat-and tears battles to focus on some (awesome) character development. It’s definitely still a solid Black Company book and there were some great twists and really exciting battle sequences. I can’t wait to read the next one!

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Weird Dip in Quality for Me

Shadow games is a very strange book after reading the first three. Marc Vietor is still great, as usual. But it feels like Cook realized he was missing his fantasy trope quota and had to jam as many into this book as he could. More than ever, the first half of this book feels like a fantasy adventure rather than a gritty military fantasy. But not in a way like Book 2 with Maran Shed's journey. More like a typical cliche fantasy stories. It's not bad it's just not what the series has offered so far. I suspect maybe Cook just wasn't entirely sure what to write for that segment of the Company's journey, and really the only reason I was still enjoying it was because of how attached I'd become to these characters. At least in the second half it starts becoming more business as usual.

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Great stuff

It's been a long road getting this far in the series, and every time we're on the road a lot has changed surrounding our favorite band of mercenaries. Without spoiling I'll say there has been a rift in what was once the more full band of the Black Company and has to be repaired by those surviving. Rebuilt, and made stronger. A hint of war threatens from the horizon, with grim omens and moments of tense fear. Glen Cook's writing is, as always, dry and gritty but also clever, occasionally tinged with humor and sometimes even beautiful poetry. It has and maybe always will shock me to read his work when there are so few that capture the same doom and gloom without coming off as completely boring. He thrives in the darkness. I wonder what happened in his life to train him so well for this literature. In any case, I had a feeling through most of this particular entry in the series that most of the really exciting stuff was behind me, with promise of maybe a little more excitement ahead, but here we are stuck in the bridge between. The bridge is still a worthwhile journey. It just wasn't as glorious as the previous books, which to me rivaled the Lord of the Rings when played in the theatre of my mind. That's giving it a lot of credit, but I think in terms of how it made me feel then it deserves it. It made me feel like the world, the war and it's characters were real, flawed people, but not flawed so much that I can't sympathize with or like them. I like them very much. It even turns some of the most famously villainous characters into anti-heroes into heroes! But it's done so believably, which takes the story to places I never imagined were possible. I am looking forward to reading more immediately. I hope there are other books that capture my interest beyond five novels or I will have lost faith in the capabilities of our modern day fantasy authors. Oh, well, I already have for the most part. At least there's always Miles/Christian Cameron, Bernard Cornwell (Arthur trilogy), to name a few.

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Much of the magic is gone

The draw of The Black Company was the unique perspective it gave with a protagonist (the company) involved with the struggle of the story, but with little agency to affect their fate. The shift in roles at the end of The White Rose made for an interesting cliffhanger, but alas, the result is far more regular and run of the mill dark fantasy than it's predecessors.

Marc Vietor was fantastic as always, and seeing as how the next entry changes performers, I don't think I will continue with the series.

YMMV

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Lost the magic

The initial Black Company trilogy is a masterpiece. This fourth book just doesn't have the same feel. Narrator is great as always.

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  • Christopher
  • 08-08-14

A great sequel

Not quite as enjoyable as the initial trilogy, but still a fantastic read

Story – 4/5

There wasn’t as much intrigue and new fantasy discoveries in this book, as it had mostly been done in the initial trilogy. There was a lot more character development though, as Croaker now has to lead the Black Company, so we are seeing it from a different perspective altogether. There is also a love story involved, which is subtle and believable, and has been built upon very nicely from the previous novels.

Where this story really shines though, is in the final 3 hours, where the battles and skirmishes are plentiful. I also enjoyed the political elements that accompanied it. The ending was excellent, and there are plenty of surprises in there that I did not see coming at all.

This is not a standalone sequel though, there is too much left open at the end, of which I imagine “Dreams of Steel” will follow straight on from. I can’t wait to get stuck into it. This has very quickly become a favourite series of mine, and I am being careful not to rush through all 10 novels.

Performance – 4.5/5

Marc Vietor IS Croaker. Having listened to him act as Croaker for 4 books, I can’t imagine any other voice doing it. The other characters all have distinctly recognisable voices, and he does a superb job, yet again, of setting the mood and atmosphere for the entire story. The more stories I read, the better he gets as well.

Overall – 4/5

1 person found this helpful

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  • ErIing Winjum
  • 07-08-22

old friends return

One hell of a cliffhanger, And one hell of a love story
better read it