Blog Archive

View My Stats
Monday, March 19, 2007

"Lord Of The Silent Kingdom" by Glen Cook



Before I get started, just a warning: there will be SPOILERS AHEAD!!! Due to the complexity of “The Instrumentalities Of The Night” series, I will be summarizing the first book “The Tyranny Of The Night” in conjunction with my review of book two “Lord Of The Silent Kingdom.”

So, let’s recap. Set in a world that is loosely based on 12 th–15th century Europe, “The Tyranny Of The Night” follows three main storylines. First, you have Captain Else Tage, a Sha-lug (special services warrior) of the Pramans who control the Wells Of Ihrain (a source of power for the Instrumentalities) amidst the Holy Lands. Else Tage does the impossible: a human using science/technology to kill a creature of the Night, in essence a minor god. From there, Else Tage is sent on a new mission to the West, to prevent the Patriarchy from starting another crusade into the Holy Lands. Along the way, Else Tage assumes a new identity in Piper Hecht, and becomes embroiled in a variety of increasingly improbable adventures involving politics (Patriarch, anti-Patriarch, Principates, King Peter), religion (Chaldarean, Deves, Pramans), soldiering, romance (Anna Mozilla), pirates, the Brotherhood Of War (dedicated to the destruction of the Night), witches, spies, soultaken assassins, sorcerers, Imperials (Grail Empire), and much more. Meanwhile, a second narrative focuses on two Andoran warriors in Shagot & Svavar, who are resurrected hundreds of years out of the past as soultaken by the Old Ones (ancient gods) to hunt down and kill the Godslayer (Else Tage). And lastly, you have Brother Candle, a Perfect Master of the Maysalean heresy who appears in the End of Connec in an attempt to prevent the Patriarch Sublime V from launching a crusade to rid the country of its heretics.

Just based on the above synopsis, which is really only a taste of what the book has to offer, it’s obvious that there’s a lot going on with “The Tyranny Of The Night.” So, there’s no surprise that there’s been some complaints about the book’s intricacy. After all, there’s a lot of information to process, not just the huge cast of characters involved, but also all of the political, religious, geographical and historical data that is thrown at you. And considering the many variant viewpoints and an obvious lack of a map or glossary, “The Tyranny Of The Night” can be a hard book to follow. Still, if you were one of those readers that persevered through to the end, then you were treated to a very enjoyable convergence of events that satisfactorily concluded the first chapter in the Instrumentality series.

With “Lord Of The Silent Kingdom” the story picks up not long after the end of “The Tyranny Of The Night”, once again following the narratives of Piper Hecht (Else Tage), now the Captain-General of the Patriarchal army, and Brother Candle who continues his vigil in Connec. Providing the third viewpoint this time around is Helspeth Ege, Princess Apparent of the Grail Empire. First, to allay any fears, “Lord Of The Silent Kingdom” is a much less confusing read than its predecessor. After all, the foundation was already established in the first book, and aside from a few new faces and locales, the story focuses mainly on those players and locations we already know. Plus, the viewpoints strictly adhere to Piper, Brother Candle and Princess Helspeth with only the occasional deviating narrative or long-winded exposition.

Now, of the three main storylines I found those of Piper Hecht to be the most engaging, as was the case with “The Tyranny Of The Night”, and, appropriately, Hecht gets the most face time. For avid readers of Glen Cook, particularly his “Black Company” novels which helped establish the author’s trademark for writing gritty, militaristic fantasy grounded in cynical realism and punctuated by acerbic humor, Piper Hecht’s adventures are the most closely related. While the escapades this time around aren’t as ironical or off-the-wall as they were in “The Tyranny Of The Night” you can still expect plenty of assassination attempts, war campaigns, backstabbing, the Ninth Unknown Cloven Februaren, family secrets, politics, Instrumentalities and engaging interactions with the likes of Pinkus Ghort, etc., to occupy Piper throughout “Lord Of The Silent Kingdom”. For Brother Candle, his narrative remains dry in tone, reinforcing his role as mainly an observer of the events that befall Connec. Meanwhile, Princess Helspeth gets the least face time, and I felt that her narrative was more of an introduction, not just to her, but also to the court that she inhabits, which I believe is going to play a much bigger role in future volumes.


Compared to its predecessor, “Lord Of The Silent Kingdom” is an improvement in some areas and a fall off in others. On the plus side, the book itself is much easier to follow, part of it due to the format & writing, but mostly because the reader should already be familiar with the world that Mr. Cook has created. Speaking of which, the characterization of the world and the variety of peoples who populate it continue to be deftly realized and is definitely one of the high points of the book. What I felt was a weakness, was that while a lot happens in “Lord Of The Silent Kingdom”, the reader is not always involved in the thick of the action, and the book lacks the epic, supernatural action of “The Tyranny Of The Night.” In fact, the novel feels more like a setup piece between “The Tyranny Of The Night” and the forthcoming volumes in the Instrumentality series as a lot of threads are left unresolved. So, from a personal standpoint, I did not enjoy “Lord Of The Silent Kingdom” as an individual book as much as I did “The Tyranny Of The Night”, even with all of its faults. That said, I feel that “The Instrumentalities Of The Night” is one of the more ambitious and dynamic fantasy epics out there today. What’s more, Mr. Cook is still establishing his legacy as one of fantasy’s best writers by continuing to take risks and redefining the genre that he’s been influencing since he first began writing. So, whether you’re a die-hard fan of “The Black Company”, “Dread Empire” or “Garrett P.I.”, or if you’re new to Glen Cook, take the plunge, read “The Instrumentalities Of The Night” series and be rewarded…

0 comments:

Follow by Email

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “The Burning Isle” by Will Panzo!!!
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “The Diabolic” by S.J. Kincaid!!!
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “A Gossamer Lens” by M.R. Mathias!!!
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “Lost Gods” by Brom!!!
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “The Blood Mirror” by Brent Weeks!!!
Order HERE

NOTEWORTHY RELEASES

Click Here To Order “The Wall of Storms” by Ken Liu!!!
Order HERE