cover image Bleak Seasons: Book One of the Glittering Stone

Bleak Seasons: Book One of the Glittering Stone

Glen Cook. Tor Books, $22.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86105-6

The ragged but effective group of sorcerers and soldiers known as ""the Black Company"" (Dreams of Steel, 1990, etc.) return in their sixth book, the first of a new trilogy. The members of the Black Company fight for hire as mercenaries, but also uphold a centuries-old tradition that includes solidarity and keeping a chronicle called ""the Annals."" Murgen, Standardbearer and current keeper of the Annals, narrates this story, with visions back and forth in time, often involuntary. Cook provides a rich world of assorted races, cultures and religions; his characters combine the mythic or exotic with the realistic, engaging in absorbing alliances, enmities and double-crosses. Unfortunately, all his good work is undercut somewhat by narrative dependence on the earlier books-which, after six years, most readers may not recall-and by a cliffhanger ending that won't be resolved until future books. (Apr.)