Glen Cook: Soldiers Live

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Glen Cook Soldiers Live
  • Название:
    Soldiers Live
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    A TOR Book
  • Жанр:
    Фэнтези / на английском языке
  • Год:
    2000
  • Язык:
    Английский
  • ISBN:
    0-8125-6655-6
  • Рейтинг книги:
    4 / 5
  • Ваша оценка:
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Soldiers Live: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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As Soldiers Live opens, no Black Company member has died in battle for four years. Croaker figures it can't last. He's right. For, of course, many of the Company's old adversaries are still around. Narayan Singh and his adopted daughter — actually the offspring of Croaker and Lady — hope to bring about the apocalyptic Year of the Skulls. Other old enemies like Longshadow and Howler are also ready to do the Company harm. And much of the Company is still recovering from the fifteen years many of them spent in a stasis field. Then a report arrives of an old enemy newly active again. It attacks them at a shadowgate — setting off a chain of events that will bring the Company to the edge of apocalypse and, as usual, several steps beyond.

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sf_fantasy Glen Charles Cook Soldiers Live

As Soldiers Live opens, no Black Company member has died in battle for four years. Croaker figures it can't last. He's right.

For, of course, many of the Company's old adversaries are still around. Narayan Singh and his adopted daughter — actually the offspring of Croaker and Lady — hope to bring about the apocalyptic Year of the Skulls. Other old enemies like Longshadow and Howler are also ready to do the Company harm. And much of the Company is still recovering from the fifteen years many of them spent in a stasis field.

Then a report arrives of an old enemy newly active again. It attacks them at a shadowgate — setting off a chain of events that will bring the Company to the edge of apocalypse and, as usual, several steps beyond.

2000 en en ABC Amber LIT Converter, FB Editor v2.0, AlReader2 05 July 2009 8F61EEAC-B1A9-43FF-A922-CB66E03B0587 1.0 Soldiers Live A TOR Book 2000 0-8125-6655-6

Glen Cook

Soldiers Live

1

An Abode of Ravens:

When No Men Died

Four years passed and no one died. Not of violence or hazard of the calling, anyway. Otto and Hagop did pass on within days of each other, of natural causes associated with aging, last year. A few weeks ago one Tam Duc, recruit in training, perished of the overconfident exuberance of youth. He fell into a crevasse while he and his lance brothers were riding their blankets down the long slick slope of the Tien Myuen glacier. There were a few others. But not a one by an unfriendly hand.

Four years has to be a record, though not the sort often recalled in these Annals.

That much peace is impossible to believe.

Peace that prolonged becomes increasingly seductive.

Many of us are old and tired and retain no youthful fire in the belly. But us old farts are not in charge anymore. And though we were prepared to forget horror, horror was not as accomodating toward us.


In those days the Company was in service to its own name. We recognized no master. We counted the warlords of Hsien as our allies. They feared us. We were supernatural, many recalled from the dead, the ultimate Stone Soldiers. They dreaded the chance that we might take sides in their squabbles over the bones of Hsien, that once-mighty empire the Nyueng Bao recall as the Land of Unknown Shadows.

The more idealistic warlords have hopes of us. The mysterious File of Nine provide arms and money and let us recruit because they hope we can be manipulated into helping them restore the golden age that existed before the Shadowmasters enslaved their world so cruelly that its people still call themselves the Children of the Dead.

There is no chance we will participate. But we permit them the hope, the illusion. We have to get strong. We have a mission of our own.

By standing still we have caused the blossoming of a city. A once-chaotic encampment has become ordered and has acquired names, Outpost or the Bridgehead among those who came from beyond the plain and what translates as Abode of Ravens amongst the Children of the Dead. The place keeps growing. It has generated scores of permanent structures. It is in the processing of acquiring a wall. The main street is being paved with cobblestones.

Sleepy likes to keep everyone busy. She cannot stand a loafer. The Children of the Dead will inherit a treasure when we finally go away.

2

An Abode of Ravens:

When the Baobhas Sang

Boom! Boom! Somebody hammered on my door. I glanced at Lady. She had stayed up late last night and so had fallen asleep while studying this evening. She was determined to discover all the secrets of Hsien magic and to help Tobo harness the startlingly plentiful supernatural manifestations of this world. Not that Tobo needed much help anymore.

This world has more real phantoms and marvellous beings hiding in the bushes and behind the rocks and trees and on the edge of night than any twenty generations of our own frightened peasants could imagine. They gravitate toward Tobo as though he is some sort of nightside messiah. Or amusing pet, maybe.

Boom! Boom! I would have to get off my butt myself. That looked like a long, hard trek over there.

Boom! Boom! “Come on, Croaker! Wake up!” The door swung inward as my visitor invited himself inside. The very devil of my thoughts.

“Tobo...”

“Didn’t you hear the baobhas singing?”

“I heard a racket. Your friends are always kicking up a fuss about something. I don’t pay any attention anymore.”

“When the baobhas sing it means somebody is going to die. And there’s been a cold wind off the plain all day and Big Ears and Golden-Eye have been extremely nervous and... it’s One-Eye, sir. I just went over to talk to him. He looks like he’d had another stroke.”

“Shit. Let me get my bag.” No surprise, One-Eye suffering a stroke. That old fart has been trying to sneak out on us for years. Most of the vinegar went out of him back when we lost Goblin.

“Hurry!”

The kid loved that old shit-disturber. Sometimes it seemed like One-Eye was what he wanted to be when he grew up. In fact, it seemed Tobo venerated everybody but his own mother, though the friction between them diminished as he aged. He had matured considerably since my latest resurrection.

“I’m hurrying as fast as I can, Your Grace. This old body doesn’t have the spring it did in the olden days.”

“Physician, heal thyself.”

“Believe me, kid, I would if I could. If I had my druthers I’d be twenty-three years old for the rest of my life. Which would last another three thousand years.”

“That wind off the plain. It has Uncle worried, too.”

“Doj is always worried about something. What does your father say?”

“He and Mom are still at Khang Phi visiting Master Santaraksita.”

At a tender twenty Tobo is akeady the most powerful sorcerer in all this world. Lady says he might possibly become a match for her in her prime. Scary. But he has parents he calls Mom and Dad still. He has friends he treats like people, not objects. He accords his teachers respect and honor instead of devouring them just to prove that he is stronger. His mother raised him well, despite having done so in the environment of the Black Company. And despite his innate rebellious streak. I hope he will remain a decent human being once he comes into his full powers.

My wife does not believe that is possible. She is a pessimist about character. She insists that power corrupts. Inevitably. She has only her own history by which to judge. And she sees only the dark side of everything. Even so, she remains one of Tobo’s teachers. Because, despite her bleak outlook, she retains the silly romantic streak that brought her here with me.

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