[By Nic Lindh on Wednesday, 10 October 2007]
A Cruel Wind is an omnibus edition of the first three novels in Glen Cook’s Dread Empire series, which has long been out of print and difficult to find. The novels included are A Shadow of All Night Falling, October’s Baby, and All Darkness Met. As you can tell from the titles alone, Cook doesn’t truck much with unicorns and puppies.
This is the granddaddy of dark fantasy, merging the usual concepts of swords and sorcery with a grim world view, where all the characters are painted in shades of grey, and all have their own motivations and flaws. With a huge cast of people introduced without any exposition and a plot packed with fast-moving Realpolitik, Cook doesn’t make it easy for the reader to follow along. You have to pay attention.
The series starts out a bit tentative, and is quite frankly a bit difficult to get into. As with his characters, Cook wastes little time on setting up the world and its history. Instead, your understanding grows as the plot moves along. But if you persevere, the series becomes mesmerizing—after a while it becomes very difficult to put down.
Other Glen Cook reviews: