Glen Cook

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Glen Charles Cook (born July 9, 1944) is a contemporary American science fiction and fantasy writer, best known for The Black Company and Garrett P.I. fantasy series.

Quotes[edit]

The Black Company (1984)[edit]

All page numbers from the trade paperback omnibus Chronicles of the Black Company published by Tor ISBN 0-7653-1923-3
  • There were prodigies and portents enough, One-Eye says. We must blame ourselves for misinterpreting them. One-Eye’s handicap in no way impairs his marvelous hindsight.
    • Chapter 1, “Legate” (p. 11; opening paragraph)
  • Fools can make an omen of anything in retrospect.
    • Chapter 1, “Legate” (p. 11)
  • He was a lawyer before he worked his way up to pimping.
    • Chapter 1, “Legate” (p. 23)
  • I went back to staring tomorrow in the face. Better than looking backward. But tomorrow refused to shed its mask.
    • Chapter 1, “Legate” (p. 34)
  • He is blind to the dead, to the burning villages, to the starving children. As is the Rebel. Two blind armies, able to see nothing but one another.
    • Chapter 3, “Raker” (p. 79)
  • Consider little children. There are not many of them not cute and lovable and precious, sweet as whipped honey and butter. So where do all the wicked people come from?
    • Chapter 4, “Whisper” (p. 115)
  • “We all do that. In every day life it’s called making excuses.” True, raw motives are too rough to swallow. By the time most people reach my age, they have glossed their motives so often and so well they fall completely out of touch with them.
    • Chapter 4, “Whisper” (p. 115)
  • I grinned. “The unwritten law of all armies, Captain. The lower ranks have the privilege of questioning the sanity and competence of their commanders. It’s the mortar holding an army together.”
    • Chapter 5, “Harden” (p. 138)
  • Only this time it was just a brief rest, till the stars came out. They stared down with mockery in their twinkles, saying all our sweat and blood really had no meaning in the long eye of time. Nothing we did would be recalled a thousand years from now.
    Such thoughts infected us all. No one had any ideals or glory-lust left. We just wanted to get somewhere, lie down, and forget the war.
    The war would not forget us.
    • Chapter 5, “Harden” (p. 140)
  • The list of cities lost was long and disheartening, even granting exaggeration by the reporters. Soldiers defeated always overestimate the strength of their foe. That soothes egos suspecting their own inferiority.
    • Chapter 5, “Harden” (p. 160)
  • Evil is relative, Annalist. You can’t hang a sign on it. You can’t touch it or taste it or cut it with a sword. Evil depends on where you are standing, pointing your indicting finger.
    • Chapter 6, “Lady” (pp. 192-193)
  • I could not get my feelings straight. I did not believe in evil as an active force, only as a matter of viewpoint, yet I had seen enough to make me question my philosophy. If the Lady were not evil incarnate, then she was as close as made no difference.
    • Chapter 6, “Lady” (p. 205)
  • I am not religious. I cannot conceive of gods who would give a damn about humanity’s frothy carryings-on. I mean, logically, beings of that order just wouldn’t. But maybe there is a force for greater good, created by our unconscious minds conjoined, that becomes an independent power greater than the sum of its parts. Maybe, being a mindthing, it is not time-bound. Maybe it can see everywhere and everywhen and move pawns so that what seems to be today’s victory becomes the cornerstone of tomorrow’s defeat.
    Maybe weariness did things to my mind.
    • Chapter 6, “Lady” (p. 208)

Shadows Linger (1984)[edit]

All page numbers from the trade paperback omnibus Chronicles of the Black Company published by Tor ISBN 0-7653-1923-3
  • All men are born condemned, so the wise say. All suckle the breast of Death.
    All bow before that Shadow Monarch. That Lord in Shadow lifts a finger. A feather flutters to the earth. There is no reason in His song. The good go young. The wicked prosper. He is king of the Chaos Lands. His breath stills all souls.
    • Chapter 1, “Juniper” (p. 223; opening words)
  • It was a day ripped full-grown from the womb of despair.
    • Chapter 5, “Juniper: Marron Shed” (p. 229)
  • You try your damnedest, but something always goes wrong. That’s life. If you’re smart, you plan for it.
    • Chapter 6, “Tally Mix-Up” (p. 232)
  • The essence of sorcery, even for its nonfraudulent practitioners, is misdirection.
    • Chapter 8, “Tally Close-Up” (p. 243)
  • Krage eyed us from a face of stone. “I help you with something, Inquisitor?”
    “Probably not. You’d lie to me if the truth would save your soul, you bloodsucker.”
    “Flattery will get you nowhere. What do you want, you parasite?”
    Tough boy, this Krage. Struck from the same mold as Bullock, but he had drifted into a socially less honored profession. Not much to choose between them I thought. Priest and moneylender.
    • Chapter 14, “Juniper: Duretile” (p. 283)
  • Shed swallowed. “That isn’t a plan that does much for my nerves.”
    “Your nerves aren’t my problem, Shed. They’re yours. You lost them. Only you can find them again.”
    • Chapter 15, “Juniper: Death of a Gangster” (p. 287)
  • “Best way out,” Elmo observed laconically, “would be to kill everybody who knows anything, then all of us fall on our swords.”
    “Sounds a little extreme,” Goblin opined. “But if you want to go first, I’m right behind you.”
    • Chapter 24, “Juniper: Shadow Dancing” (p. 326)
  • How to argue with sociopathic reasoning? Lisa was the heart of Lisa’s universe. Other people existed only to be exploited.
    • Chapter 29, “Juniper: Payoff” (p. 346)
  • My arguments were beginning to sound a little strained to me, too. I was in the position of a priest trying to sell religion.
    • Chapter 32, “Juniper: Visitors” (p. 365)
  • I do not believe in evil absolute. I have recounted that philosophy in specific in the Annals, and it affects my every observation throughout my tenure as Annalist. I believe in our side and theirs, with the good and evil decided after the fact, by those who survive. Among men you seldom find the good with one standard and the shadow with another.
    • Chapter 33, “Juniper: The Encounter” (p. 367)
  • Oh, ‘twould be marvelous if the world and its moral questions were like some game board, with plain black players and white, and fixed rules, and nary a shade of grey.
    • Chapter 33, “Juniper: The Encounter” (p. 367)
  • Nobody knew what the Company wanted. Various witnesses assigned motives according to their own fears. Few came anywhere near the mark.
    • Chapter 33, “Juniper: The Encounter” (p. 368)
  • Simple minds respond to simple answers.
    • Chapter 33, “Juniper: The Encounter” (p. 370)
  • I have seen it before. Little people have to hate, have to blame someone for their own inadequacies.
    • Chapter 33, “Juniper: The Encounter” (p. 370)
  • You mess with people’s religion and you mess with fire. Even people who don’t much give a damn. Religion is something that gets hammered in early, and never really goes away. And has powers to move which go beyond anything rational.
    • Chapter 38, “Juniper: The Storm” (p. 390)

The White Rose (1985)[edit]

All page numbers from the trade paperback omnibus Chronicles of the Black Company published by Tor ISBN 0-7653-1923-3
  • An old, tired man. That is what I am. What became of the old fire, drive, ambition? There were dreams once upon a time, dreams now all but forgotten. On sad days I dust them off and fondle them nostalgically, with a patronizing wonder at the naivete of the youth who dreamed them.
    • Chapter 2, “The Plain of Fear” (p. 456)
  • Bomanz had lived his lies so long he often lied to himself.
    • Chapter 7, “The Second Letter” (p. 476)
  • One’s own yesterday is a ghost that will not be laid. Death is the only exorcism.
    • Chapter 8, “The Barrowland” (p. 481)
  • Old folks called the winter a harbinger of worse to come. But old folks always see today’s weather as more harsh than that of yore. Or milder. Never, never the same.
    • Chapter 8, “The Barrowland” (p. 482)
  • Bomanz sighed. A man couldn’t get five minutes alone. What the hell did he get married for? Why did any man? You spent the rest of your life doing hard time, doing what other people wanted, not what you wanted.
    • Chapter 10, “Bomanz’s Story” (p. 491)
  • You know you’re getting old when everything aggravates you.
    • Chapter 10, “Bomanz’s Story” (p. 491)
  • Every time I see a mirror I’m amazed. I end up wondering who’s taken over the outside of me. A disgusting old goat, from the look of him. The kind I used to snicker at when I was twenty. He scares me, Stance. He looks like a dying man. I’m trapped inside him, and I’m not ready to go.
    • Chapter 10, “Bomanz’s Story” (p. 497)
  • You can’t get out of getting old. You can’t get out of having a relationship change.
    • Chapter 10, “Bomanz’s Story” (p. 497)
  • I said, “I am a soldier, grown old and tired and confused. I have been fighting since before you were born. And I have yet to see anything gained.”
    • Chapter 12, “The Plain of Fear” (p. 506)
  • “Can you read?”
    I nodded.
    “Rules are posted over there. You got two choices. Obey them. Or be dead.”
    • Chapter 28, “To the Barrowland” (p. 576)
  • The only exercise I get is jumping to conclusions.
    • Chapter 39, “A Guest at Charm” (p. 622)
  • No religion I ever encountered made any sense. None are consistent. Most gods are megalomaniacs and paranoid psychotics by their worshipers’ description. I don’t see how they could survive their own insanity. But it’s not impossible that human beings are incapable of interpreting a power so much greater than themselves. Maybe religions are twisted and perverted shadows of truth. Maybe there are forces which shape the world. I myself have never understood why, in a universe so vast, a god would care about something so trivial as worship or human destiny.
    • Chapter 39, “A Guest at Charm” (pp. 624-625)
  • “A teacher?”
    “Yes. He argued that we are the gods, that we create our own destiny. That what we are determines what will become of us. In a peasantlike vernacular, we all paint ourselves into corners from which here is no escape simply by being ourselves and interacting with other selves.”
    “Interesting.”
    “Well. Yes. There is god of sorts, Croaker. Do you know? Not a mover and shaker, though. Simply a negator. An ender of tales. He has a hunger that cannot be sated. The universe itself will slide down his maw.”
    “Death?”
    “I do not want to die, Croaker. All that I am shrieks against the unrighteousness of death. All that I am, was, and probably will be, is shaped by my passion to evade the end of me.” She laughed quietly, but there was a thread of hysteria there. She gestured, indicating the shadowed killing ground below. “I would have built a world in which I was safe. And the cornerstone of my citadel would have been death.”
    The end of the dream was drawing close. I could not imagine a world without me in it, either. And the inner me was outraged. Is outraged. I have no trouble imagining someone becoming obsessed with escaping death.
    “I understand.”
    “Maybe. We’re all equals at the dark gate, no? The sands run for us all. Life is but a flicker shouting into the jaws of eternity. But it seems so damned unfair!”
    • Chapter 39, “A Guest at Charm” (p. 625)
  • She is not one to disdain truth indefinitely only because it is unpleasant.
    • Chapter 42, “Homecoming” (p. 639)
  • This soiree must have been so big that if held today, we’d call it a war. Or at least a riot. On and on. So-and-so of such-and-such, with Lady Who’s-is, sixteen titles, four of which made sense. By the time the heralds finished proclaiming everyone, the party must have died of encroaching senility.
    • Chapter 43, “Picnic” (p. 643)
  • The light overcame the shadow. But as always, the shadow left its taint on the victors.
    • Chapter 43, “Picnic” (p. 645)
  • Slight gasp. “You grow too bold.”
    Didn’t I? “I’m sorry. Thinking out loud. An unhealthy habit known to be the cause of bruises and major hemorrhaging.”
    • Chapter 49, “The Invisible Maze” (p. 666)
  • Why do sorcerers always use languages nobody understands? Even Goblin and One-Eye do it. Each has confided that he cannot follow the tongue the other uses. Maybe they make it up?
    • Chapter 53, “The Recovery” (p. 677)
  • Dawn comes early when you wish it would not. The hours flash when you want them to drag.
    • Chapter 56, “Time Fading” (p. 686)

Shadow Games (1989)[edit]

All page numbers from the trade paperback omnibus The Books of the South published by Tor ISBN 978-0-7653-2066-7
  • I guess each of us, at some time, finds one person with whom we are compelled toward absolute honesty, one person whose good opinion of us becomes a substitute for the broader opinion of the world. And that opinion becomes more important than all our sneaky, sleazy schemes of greed, lust, self-aggrandizement, whatever we are up to while lying the world into believing we are just plain nice folks.
    • Chapter 5, “Chains of Empire” (p. 30)
  • Are lovers ever honest?
    • Chapter 5, “Chains of Empire” (p. 31)
  • I began to back away.
    This is how I handle my women. Duck for cover when they get distressed.
    • Chapter 5, “Chains of Empire” (p. 31)
  • The staff came to enquire after my needs. They were revolting in their obsequiousness.
    A disgusting little part of me gobbled it up. A part just big enough to show why some men lust after power. But not for me, thank you. I am too lazy. And I am, I fear, the unfortunate victim of a sense of responsibility. Put me in charge and I try to accomplish the ends to which the office was allegedly created. I guess I suffer from an impoverishment of the sociopathic spirit necessary to go big time.
    • Chapter 6, “Opal” (p. 34)
  • Willow, if the gods thought half as much of you as you think of yourself, you’d be king of the world.
    • Chapter 7, “Smoke and the Woman” (p. 39)
  • “Given time we would have become less than indispensable and you would have started looking around for a way to shaft us instead of doing the honorable thing and paying us off and simply terminating our comission.”
    “That’s what I love about you, Croaker. Your unflagging faith in humanity.”
    “Absolutely. Every ounce of my cynicism is supported by historical precedent,” I grumped.
    • Chapter 11, “A March into Yesteryear” (p. 54)
  • “Truth is a deadly weapon,” Lady said.
    “Which is why priests and princes dread it,” I said.
    • Chapter 25, “Taglios: Scouting Southward” (p. 127)
  • It is not necessarily for mercenary soldiers to know what is going on. It is sufficient for them to do the job for which they have taken the gold. That had been drummed into me from the moment I enlisted. There is neither right nor wrong, neither good nor evil, only our side and theirs. The honor of the company lies within, directed one brother toward another. Without, honor lies only in keeping faith with the sponsor.
    • Chapter 28, “Back to Scouting” (p. 148)
  • That damned rain had a personal grudge. It got no heavier but it never let up. Yet to east and west I saw light that indicated clear skies in those directions. The gods, if such existed, were laying on the misery especially for me.
    • Chapter 28, “Back to Scouting” (p. 148)
  • The Radisha kicked over a pile of books. “I’ve never felt so powerless. I don’t like the feeling.”
    Smoke shrugged. “Welcome to the world where the rest of us live.”
    • Chapter 29, “Smoke’s Hideout” (p. 153)
  • Never underestimate the power of human ingratitude.
    • Chapter 30, “Taglios Aroused” (p. 156)
  • I was learning that part of a captain’s job is to delegate. Maybe genius lies in choosing the right person for the right task.
    • Chapter 31, “Taglios: a Boot-Camp City” (p. 165)
  • Trouble came only where I expected it, from One-Eye, whose motto is that anything not nailed down is his and anything he can pry loose isn’t nailed down.
    • Chapter 38, “Invaders of the Shadowlands” (p. 194)

The Silver Spike (1989)[edit]

All page numbers from the trade paperback omnibus The Books of the South published by Tor ISBN 978-0-7653-2066-7
  • He couldn’t handle what it meant to have somebody in love with you. Running away was the only thing he knew how to do.
    • Chapter 1 (p. 457)
  • Nobody had any ideas. The questions just sort of lay there like dead fish too ripe to be ignored and too big to shove out of the way.
    • Chapter 19 (p. 499)
  • The road can blunt the most iron will.
    • Chapter 20 (p. 503)
  • Bomanz could not get away from the bird, who, if he had been human, would have hung out in taverns masquerading as the world’s foremost authority, armed with an uninformed and ready opinion on every conceivable subject. His cheerful bigotry and who-cares ignorance drove the old man’s temper to its limit.
    • Chapter 21 (pp. 506-507)
  • Smeds did not give a rat’s ass who ran things as long as they left him alone. Most people felt that way.
    • Chapter 23 (p. 519)
  • He had learned self-control in a hard school. He had been married for thirty years.
    • Chapter 26 (p. 528)
  • Smeds did not like it. It was getting complicated. He did not like things complicated. Trying to untangle them usually made things worse.
    • Chapter 28 (p. 541)
  • She did not seem offended, so I added my secret philosophy of life: any dork who became a soldier for an idea instead of the money deserved to die for his country. You’re going to put it all on the table, six up with some other guy, it damned well better be for stakes you can carry away.
    • Chapter 36 (p. 560)
  • I told her I could not believe in her movement because it did not promise anything for the future except freedom from the tyranny of the past. I told her that what little philosophy I’d detected driving the movement totally ignored human nature. That if the Rebels ever did manage to topple the empire, whatever replaced it would be worse. That was the lesson of history. New regimes, to make sure they survived, were always nastier than the ones before them.
    • Chapter 36 (p. 561)
  • I’ve always known people for whom a goal was everything, who never thought nothing about the consequences of the goal achieved.
    • Chapter 36 (p. 562)
  • She wasn’t satisfied with the way things turned out. What the hell can you do with women? You can give them exactly what they ask for and they’ll cuss you because that ain’t what they really want.
    • Chapter 38 (p. 569)
  • Raven muttered, “You don’t have to be brilliant to be a god.”
    • Chapter 42 (p. 580)
  • Something he had heard some wise man say. About the three stages of empire, the three generations. First came the conquerors, unstoppable in war. Then came the administrators, who bound it all together into one apparently unshakable, immortal edifice. Then came the wasters, who knew no responsibility and squandered the capital of their inheritance upon whims and vices. And fell to other conquerors.
    • Chapter 58 (p. 629)
  • Public works which did not serve the rich and powerful had a way of dying of neglect.
    • Chapter 66 (p. 646)

Dreams of Steel (1990)[edit]

All page numbers from the trade paperback omnibus The Books of the South published by Tor ISBN 978-0-7653-2066-7
  • “That your solution to everything? Cut somebody’s throat?”
    “Always slows them down.”
    • Chapter 10 (p. 258)
  • Blade muttered, “Makes as much sense as the story of any other god. Meaning it don’t.”
    • Chapter 10 (p. 261)
  • Blade grumbled about the absurdities of the theological imagination and why didn’t people have sense enough to smother would-be priests in their cradles?
    • Chapter 10 (p. 261)
  • I don’t think she told any lies. She just forgot to tell the whole truth.
    • Chapter 10 (p. 263)
  • He hadn’t been religious. He’d believed that death was it. When you died you were dead, like a squished bug or drowned rat, and your immortality was in the minds of those you left behind.
    • Chapter 11 (p. 264)
  • Time is the enemy whose patience can’t be exhausted.
    • Chapter 12 (p. 270)
  • “I’ve been on my own before, Mather.” And I hadn’t been happy a moment. But happiness is a fleeting creature. It’s no birthright. Not anything I expect but something I accept when I tumble into it. Meantime, power will do nicely.
    • Chapter 14 (p. 276)
  • Half of confidence is the appearance of confidence.
    • Chapter 17 (p. 287)
  • I won’t bore you with their dogma. It’s repulsive and I’m not sure it was related to me truthfully.
    • Chapter 23 (p. 310)
  • “What do you want, Blade. Why are you doing this?”
    He shrugged, an uncharacteristic action. “There are many evils in the world. I guess I’ve chosen one for my personal crusade.”
    “Why such a hatred for priests?”
    He didn’t shrug. He didn’t give me a straight answer, either. “If each man picks an evil and attacks it relentlessly, how long can evil persist?”
    That was an easy one. Forever. More evil gets done in the name of righteousness than any other way. Few villains think they are villains. But I left him his illusion. If he had one. I doubted he did. No more than a sword’s blade does.
    • Chapter 23 (p. 310)
  • Good morning. I’m honored but I’m also pressed for time. If you have something to discuss please get to the point. I’m an hour behind schedule and didn’t budget time for socializing.
    • Chapter 27 (p. 323)
  • He winced. “You’ll start a civil war.”
    “Not if everybody behaves and minds his own business.”
    “You don’t understand. Priests consider everything their business.”
    • Chapter 29 (p. 331)
  • The resources would have to come from that absurd wall project. The city was too big to surround effectively. The project could not be justified. It was a tool for transferring the wealth of the state to a few individuals.
    • Chapter 29 (p. 332)
  • His problem is, he gets an idea in his head and he can’t get it out if it’s wrong, no matter what evidence you hit him with.
    • Chapter 55 (p. 405)
  • “They worship the goddess, Mistress. They think. But their heresies are revolting. They are worse than disbelief.”
    Why was he incensed? A prolonged exchange failed to illuminate me. No godless person can comprehend those minute distinctions in doctrine that provide true believers excuse for mayhem. It is hard enough to accept the fact that they really believe the nonsense of their faiths. I always wonder if they are pulling my leg with a straight face.
    • Chapter 58 (pp. 414-415)
  • Will, Lady. The Will will reign triumphant. My husband had said that often, confident that nothing could resist his will.
    He had believed that right up to the moment I killed him.
    • Chapter 60 (p. 419)
  • What do you do when old prophecies come true? I’ve never met a priest who honestly expected miracles in his own lifetime. For them miracles are like good wine, best when aged.
    • Chapter (p. 430)

Bleak Seasons (1996)[edit]

All page numbers from the trade paperback omnibus The Return of the Black Company published by Tor ISBN 978-0-7653-2400-9
  • And there is no time. There is a war on.
    Always there is a war on.
    • Chapter 1 (pp. 9-10)
  • Like most warlords he doesn’t let reality get in the way of his doing whatever he wants to do.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 19)
  • The sky? Dark as the inside of a priest’s heart, isn’t it?
    • Chapter 20 (p. 55)
  • Ever since childhood I have suspected you get along better if you respect people’s ways and wishes regardless of your apparent relative strengths.
    That doesn’t mean you let people walk on you. It doesn’t mean you eat their pain for them. You need to demand respect for yourself, too.
    • Chapter 25 (p. 67)
  • I guess you don’t need to agree on everything to be lovers.
    • Chapter 31 (p. 87)
  • Man, woman and child, the people of Shadowcatch were privy to the one true secret of the universe: there is always a darker shadow lurking beyond the one whose face you can see.
    • Chapter 35 (p. 108)
  • The world sure isn’t kind to the man who tries to be gentle and thoughtful.
    • Chapter 40 (p. 113)
  • “She was stronger than the gods who created her?”
    “Guys, I didn’t make this stuff up. Don’t ask me to rationalize it. Goblin, you’ve been everywhere. You ever seen a religion that can’t be picked to shreds by any nonbeliever with brains enough to tie his own bootlaces?
    • Chapter 42 (p. 120)
  • He talks big about his goddess getting involved but I won’t count on that. I’ve never seen the gods actually take a hand in mortal affairs.
    • Chapter 51 (p. 152)
  • For once he was as serious as a spear through the gut.
    • Chapter 66 (p. 187)
  • Fickle folk. A little hunger and stress and they forgot all about liberty.
    • Chapter 71 (p. 197)
  • Those soldiers hacked and slashed. Their faces were distorted with the horror of their actions but they were out of control, far past the point where they could stop. The flicker of firelight made everything seem more hellish and surreal.
    I had seen this before. I had seen my own brothers this way, a few times, back in the north. The blood smell takes control and kills the mind and deadens the soul and there is nothing human left.
    • Chapter 71 (p. 197)
  • You can blame a wizard for anything and people will believe you.
    • Chapter 77 (p. 212)
  • I heard Mather’s blather but it did not register as sense. I uttered, “Tooga ain’t no crazier than any other religion around here.”
    That seemed to offend everyone equally.
    Good.
    • Chapter 86 (p. 236)
  • It is a chance to flit off and double-check my memory, which I have found to be astonishingly unreliable.
    Apparently none of us really remember anything exactly the way it happened. And often the divergence is proportional to the amount of ego and wishful thinking we have invested.
    • Chapter 90 (p. 243)
  • The poor idiot is a living testimonial to the fact that everything takes longer and costs more. Even magic can’t get you around that.
    • Chapter 91 (p. 250)
  • I do not worship any gods myself, though I guess some are real in their own ways. I have to believe that all of them get regular belly-laughs because one of them was ingenious to create human sexuality. Even greed and lust for power do not come close to generating the stupidities that us being male and female do.
    But by giving it half a thought I can think of as many glories that spring from the same dichotomy.
    • Chapter 98 (p. 266)
  • You are a hired sword. A soldier. You should not be playing philosophical games. Not even with yourself.
    • Chapter 98 (p. 266)
  • Rage is a red, near-animate force, as bloated with compassion as a starving serpent.
    • Chapter 101 (p. 270)

She Is the Darkness (1997)[edit]

All page numbers from the trade paperback omnibus The Return of the Black Company published by Tor ISBN 978-0-7653-2400-9
  • He had gained all the power he had dreamed of then—and had not known a moment of peace since.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 288)
  • That was not an exaggeration, that was an outright fabrication.
    • Chapter 9 (p. 304)
  • He had a distinct problem imagining minds working differently from his own.
    • Chapter 12 (p. 314)
  • The soldiers stumbled forward doggedly, cursing the bite of the wind while reminding one another that generals are seldom of sound mind and unbesmirched ancestry. They would not be generals if they were.
    • Chapter 19 (p. 334)
  • He knew that he had screwed up but he was the kind of guy who, after he shoots his mouth off, cannot back down or admit any failing. The world is full of those people. All of us would be better off if their fathers would strangle them as soon as they showed signs of being that way. This particular fool was willing to sacrifice an army rather than admit his error.
    • Chapter 30 (p. 368)
  • But how do you get rid of a god? Is there any religion where they teach you that? How to get your god off your back if he gets too damned obnoxious? No. All you ever get is advice on how to bribe them to leave you alone for a few minutes.
    • Chapter 39 (p. 403)
  • He jumped down, started waving his arms around while he went to squeaking and squealing in one of those languages wizards use so the rest of us will think there is something terribly strange and mystical about what they do, kind of like lawyers.
    • Chapter 41 (p. 412)
  • Ignorance is a chink in the armor a knowledgeable enemy can exploit at will.
    • Chapter 54 (p. 462)
  • Time has a way of blunting the sharpest edge of determination.
    • Chapter 55 (p. 466)
  • I have always found the religious tolerance of the southerners amazing and disconcerting, though it was really only an ancient habit predicated on the fact that no religious community was strong enough to show the rest the errors in their thinking at swordspoint.
    • Chapter 60 (p. 481)
  • Though it might wear a thousand different names in a thousand different times, and might come from a thousand different directions, darkness always comes.
    • Chapter 69 (p. 517)
  • I must be driven. I figured that as long as I had to stay out there I ought to keep scouting around. Working in my sleep. Ought to have the Old Man double my pay. How much is two times a stab in the back?
    • Chapter 70 (p. 523)
  • Somebody a lot smarter than me once said, “Put no trust in wizards.”
    • Chapter 78 (p. 550)
  • “I still got all my limbs and I’m still breathing.”
    “Makes you a winner in the soldiering game.”
    • Chapter 78 (p. 550)
  • It is a saying of my people. Even Water sleeps. But Enemy never rests.
    • Chapter 79 (p. 554)
  • The best of the diviner breed are never wrong because they never set anything in stone.
    • Chapter 79 (p. 555)
  • Death will find a way.
    Even the gods must pass.
    • Chapter 85 (p. 574)
  • They (i. e., the peasants) could imagine no future more grim than their past.
    • Chapter 86 (p. 575)
  • We are all the sum total of our pasts, good and evil.
    • Chapter 95 (p. 614)
  • “It would take an entire nation a thousand years to build something this vast. No monument so huge can be a good thing.”
    “I don’t understand.”
    “Only a very great evil could remain so single of purpose, so uncaring of cost, as to create something so ultimately useless.”
    • Chapter 103 (p. 650)
  • We are not really a godless bunch. We are just the sort who ignore the gods—probably in the unconscious hope that the gods will not notice us.
    • Chapter 104 (p. 652)

Water Sleeps (1999)[edit]

All page numbers from the trade paperback omnibus The Many Deaths of the Black Company published by Tor ISBN 978-0-7653-2401-6
  • Though not as bad as most, he was going through that stage where he knew everything worth knowing and nothing his elders said—particularly if it bore any vaguely education hue—was worth hearing. He could not help that. It went with the age.
    And I was my age and could not help saying things I knew would do no good.
    • Chapter 4 (p. 18)
  • Sadly, after years of study, I realize that most history may pivot on personal considerations like that, not on the pursuit of ideals dark or shining.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 22)
  • Time is the most wicked of all villains.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 25)
  • Desperate people will do what they must to survive. Only a fool would expect the results to be pretty.
    • Chapter 6 (p. 31)
  • Like most villains, he was wicked only most of the time and mainly in small-minded ways.
    • Chapter 7 (p. 34)
  • I picked up my five cards from the next deal. “This ain’t a hand, it’s a foot.”
    • Chapter 10 (p. 48)
  • The people come from everywhere, from five hundred miles, to find their fortunes. But Fortune is an ugly, two-faced goddess.
    When you have lived with her handiwork for half a generation, you hardly notice anymore. You forget that this is not the way life has to be. You cease to marvel at just how much evil man can conjure simply by existing.
    • Chapter 11 (p. 55)
  • “I don’t get the Kina story. If she died back at the beginning of the world, how could she be giving us trouble for the last twenty or thirty years?”
    “It’s religion, dimwit,” Goblin barked. “It don’t got to make sense.”
    • Chapter 15 (pp. 68-69)
  • That was not supposed to happen. It was unthinkable, supposedly. And for ordinary people that was mostly true. But not so at a level where men began to believe that they existed outside the usual rules.
    • Chapter 28 (pp. 107-108)
  • Not dangerous at all. Not even that lucky. But a sufficiently paranoid mind will discern patterns and threats where only fortune has conspired.
    • Chapter 30 (p. 112)
  • Asking a storyteller not to embellish is like asking a fish to give up water.
    • Chapter 32 (p. 118)
  • The power to kill becomes the ultimate power in the hands of a man who has no reservations about employing it.
    • Chapter 32 (p. 121)
  • You might have noticed that the human animal is fond of forming and clinging to prejudices, remaining their steadfast curator in the face of all reason and contradiction.
    • Chapter 42 (p. 155)
  • Peace had broken out and was being enthusiastically exploited on the presumption that it could not possibly last.
    • Chapter 59 (p. 206)
  • Soldiers live. And wonder why.
    • Chapter 60 (p. 212; repeated on p. 356)
  • “We’re still the Black Company. We still don’t leave our own behind.” Which was never strictly true but you do have to serve an ideal the best you can, lest it become debased. A law as ancient as coinage itself says bad money will drive out good. The same is true of principles, ethics and rules of conduct. If you always do the easier thing, then you cannot possible remain steadfast when it becomes necessary to take a difficult stand. You must do what you know to be right. And you do know. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred you do know and you are just making excuses because the right thing is so hard, or just inconvenient.
    • Chapter 72 (pp. 255-256)
  • I sped a prayer heavenward. God needs to be reminded.
    • Chapter 75 (p. 265)
  • You can be screamingly blind to the obvious if you don’t realize that you have not opened up all the doors of your mind.
    • Chapter 83 (p. 298)
  • Beneath my breath I continued my conversation with God. As usual, He did not trouble Himself to defend His Works to me. My fault for being a woman.
    • Chapter 84 (p. 302)
  • And there went some good old-fashioned wishful thinking, Sleepy. We were talking about human beings. If there is any way to be contrary, unreasonable and obnoxious, human beings are sure to find and pursue it. With verve and enthusiasm at whatever might be the most inconvenient time.
    • Chapter 85 (p. 308)
  • Leadership tip: Sound confident even when you have no idea. Just do not make a habit of it. They will find you out.
    • Chapter 87 (p. 313)
  • Rich men have dreams. Poor men die to make them come true.
    • Chapter 87 (p. 314)
  • I must be alive. Otherwise I wouldn’t hurt so much.
    • Chapter 91 (p. 328)
  • Cruel, cruel tricks of the Adversary. I had been gifted with a mind that wanted to explore, to find out, to know. And I had been gifted with faith. And now I had been gifted with information that put fact and faith into conflict. I had not been gifted with a priest’s slippery dexterity when it came to reconciling the philosophically irreconcilable.
    • Chapter 96 (p. 348)
  • “When you get back to Taglios now, Master, you can establish a mighty reputation by explaining the myths in the words of a being who lived through their creation.”
    Santaraksita smiled sourly, “You know better, Dorabee. Mythology is one area where nobody wants to know the absolute truth because time has forged great symbols from raw materials supplied by ancient events. Prosaic distortions of fact metamorphose into perceived truths of the soul.”
    He had a point. In religion, precise truth has almost no currency. True believers will kill and destroy to defend their inaccurate beliefs.
    And that is a truth upon which you can rely.
    • Chapter 97 (pp. 351-352)

Soldiers Live (2000)[edit]

All page numbers from the trade paperback omnibus The Many Deaths of the Black Company published by Tor ISBN 978-0-7653-2401-6
  • 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.
    • Chapter 2, “An Abode of Ravens: When the Baobhas Sang” (p. 367)
  • “Used to be” is not worth the breeze on which it is scribbled.
    • Chapter 2, “An Abode of Ravens: When the Baobhas Sang” (p. 368)
  • Hatreds seldom are constrained to rational scales.
    • Chapter 5, “An Abode of Ravens: Headquarters” (p. 382)
  • No world lacks its villains so self-confident that they don’t believe they can get the best end of a bargain with the darkness.
    • Chapter 5, “An Abode of Ravens: Headquarters” (p. 382)
  • Life with me and the Company has not been anything like happily ever after. Reality has a way of slow-roasting romance.
    • Chapter 5, “An Abode of Ravens: Headquarters” (p. 383)
  • The thing that you know to be true is the lie that will kill you.
    • Chapter 5, “An Abode of Ravens: Headquarters” (p. 384)
  • An adventure is somebody else slogging through the mud and snow while suffering from trench foot, ringworm, dysentery and starvation, being chased by people with their hearts set on murder or more. I have been there. I have done that, playing both parts. I do not recommend it. Be content with a nice farm or shop. Make lots of babies and bring them up to be good people.
    • Chapter 6, “An Abode of Ravens: Suvrin’s News” (p. 384)
  • He was pursuing a running debate with his own guilts and ghosts—unless he was spouting proverbs and aphorisms, most of the meanings fairly obvious but a few convolute and obscure. He was particularly fond of “Fortune smiles. And then betrays.” He just could not get into bed comfortably with the truth that he had made that bed himself. He still had difficulty separating “ought to be” from “the way things really are.”
    • Chapter 8, “Taglios: Trouble Follows” (p. 389)
  • It looks like it fell out of the ugly tree and hit every single branch on the way down.
    • Chapter 10, “An Abode of Ravens: Recovery” (p. 396)
  • There are several huge monasteries—of which Khang Phi is the greatest—dedicated to the preservation of knowledge. The monks do not sort it into good and evil knowledge, nor do they make moral judgments. They take the position that no knowledge is evil until someone chooses to do evil with it.
    • Chapter 10, “An Abode of Ravens: Recovery” (p. 397)
  • There are, of course, a thousand sophistries spewed by those who wish to deny individuals the opportunity to choose. Which is an arrogant presumption of a divine scale.
    • Chapter 10, “An Abode of Ravens: Recovery” (p. 397)
  • This is what happens when you get old. You start thinking. Worse, you start telling everybody what you think.
    • Chapter 10, “An Abode of Ravens: Recovery” (p. 397)
  • Baladitya understands that in addition to being foreign territory the past is, as history, a hall of mirrors that reflect the needs of souls observing from the present. Absolute fact serves the hungers of only a few disconnected people. Symbol and faith serve the rest.
    • Chapter 12, “Glittering Stone: Steadfast Guardian” (p. 401)
  • I reminded myself that Khang Phi is bereft of arms. That the monks abhor violence. That they always yield to strength, then seduce it with reason and wisdom.
    Yes, sometimes it does take a while.
    • Chapter 15, “The Land of Unknown Shadows: The Secret Masters” (p. 422)
  • It proved to be much farther than I had hoped. It always is when you are running away.
    • Chapter 15, “The Land of Unknown Shadows: The Secret Masters” (p. 422)
  • There was one temporal power greater than the greatest sorcery. Greed.
    • Chapter 23, “Glittering Stone: Fortress with No Name” (p. 448)
  • I did not expect them to try anything but I am alive at my age because I make a habit of being ready for trouble when it seems most unlikely.
    • Chapter 33, “Khatovar: Leave-taking” (p. 488)
  • She—and I—were of an age now where we spent too much time wondering how things might have gone had we made a few different choices.
    • Chapter 38, “The Taglian Territories: The Dandha Presh” (p. 502)
  • A sign of advancing age. You start obsessing about how much you have to get done in the time that you have left.
    • Chapter 43, “The Taglian Shadowlands: The Shadowgate” (p. 514)
  • I felt wonderfully wicked. I always do when I frustrate overly powerful, responsible-to-no-one types who think all existence was created only for their pleasure and exploitation.
    • Chapter 48, “The Shadowgate: The Warlords of the Air” (p. 530)
  • I tend toward the cynical view where religion is concerned.
    • Chapter 52, “The Nether Taglian Territories: Lady Made Grumpy Noises” (p. 541)
  • She was not listening. If she listened she would have to hear uncomfortable truths.
    • Chapter 72, “Midway Between: The Rescuers” (p. 596)
  • He had leaped into the embrace of self-delusion.
    There was a lot of that going around.
    • Chapter 76, “The Taglian Territories: Another Origin Story” (p. 609)
  • Generating rumors is one thing even the most inept armed force does exceedingly well.
    • Chapter 78, “Midway Between: Bad News” (p. 615)
  • She had a full measure of youth’s indifference to the past.
    • Chapter 79, “The Taglian Territories: In Motion” (p. 620)
  • Life is never like a canal, flowing gently through a straightforward and predictable channel. It is more like a mountain brook, zigging and zagging, tearing things up, sometimes going almost dormant before taking an unexpected and turbulent turn.
    • Chapter 80, “The Taglian Territories: In Camp” (p. 620)
  • Against the years all men campaign in vain.
    • Chapter 80, “The Taglian Territories: In Camp” (p. 621)
  • Exact words were of no consequence. At heart the squabble was as old as humanity itself, fug-headed antiques locking horns with omniscient youth.
    • Chapter 87, “Glittering Stone: Fortress with No Name” (p. 639)
  • Being an old cynic myself I have strong notions about the true value of human gratitude. It is a currency whose worth plunges by the hour.
    • Chapter 95, “Fortress with No Name: Down Below” (p. 654)
  • “It doesn’t make much sense, does it?” my darling whispered to me. “People go at the oddest times and from the oddest causes.”
    “Soldiers live,” I muttered.
    “You’re turning that into a mantra.”
    “You feel guilty. You wonder why him and not me, then you’re glad it was him and not you, then you feel guilty. Soldiers live. And wonder why.”
    • Chapter 99, “By the Military Cemetery: Missing Persons” (p. 664)
  • It was the wee hours of the morning, when even the heartbeat of the world had trouble thumping on.
    • Chapter 104, “Taglios: View from the Protector’s Windows” (p. 676)
  • But, no. It was too late. Fortune’s die was cast. The cruel game had to be played to its end, no matter what anyone wanted.
    • Chapter 104, “Taglios: View from the Protector’s Windows” (p. 676)
  • But with royalty you never know. They think differently than real people. The real world never quite seems to reach them.
    • Chapter 126, “Taglios: Royal Return” (p. 720)
  • Seemed to have made peace with the bad times. Some manage that with comparative ease. Others remain crippled for life. Those are not the sort who remain soldiers. They become ex-soldiers and get intimate with wine or poppies.
    • Chapter 131, “Around Taglios: Aerial Recon” (p. 736)
  • All is not lost. But neither is it found.
    • Chapter 133, “Glittering Stone: A Dangerous Game” (p. 741)
  • I’m an incurable romantic. The essence of romance is an unshakable conviction that next time will be different.
    • Chapter 135, “Taglios: The Mad Season” (p. 747)
  • Suvrin had a little too much of the politician in him. Too much of the kind of mind willing to let an individual go so the rest will not be inconvenienced.
    • Chapter 139, “Taglios: The Great General” (p. 762)
  • I did not reflect on what my response, as Captain, would have been toward an underling with my present attitude. The Words Immortal are: That Was Different.
    • Chapter 141, “Taglios: Family Matters” (p. 766)

External links[edit]

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