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Black Company Wiki
For the hardcover omnibus see: Annals of the Black Company (1986)
For the Tor ebundle see: Annals of the Black Company (2018)
Croaker Writing

Croaker adding to the Annals.

It's told a hundred ways, poorly and well, according to the skill of the particular Annalist, but, except for the occasional interesting detail, it was the same old march, countermarch, fight, celebrate or run away, record the dead, and, sooner or later, get even with the sponsor for betraying us. Even at that place with the unpronounceable name, where the Company was in service for fifty-six years.

Croaker, Shadow Games, ch. 11

The Annals are the written history of the Black Company. They are recorded by the Company Annalist, a position considered so important that it carries an officer rank. Croaker once described the books as the "soul of the Black Company" and an outsider named Surendranath Santaraksita later told them they were "like snails, carrying your history on your back" after reading many of the group's modern tomes.

Most of the Annals are written in the first-person perspective. The published selections from the Annals, combined with Case's private journal for The Silver Spike, constitute the bulk of the Black Company series.

Some individual books of the Annals are named after their Annalist, such as the Books of Croaker, Lady, Murgen, and Sleepy. Croaker wrote in the Jewel Cities dialect, whereas Murgen and Sleepy wrote in the Taglian language. Others take their name from unknown sources, such as the "Book of Set", which was recorded by Annalist Coral; and the "Book of Kette", which recorded by the Annalists Lees, Agrip, Holm, and Straw.

The older Annals were also often fragmentary or entirely missing due to several defeats in battle where records were abandoned or lost. Examples of this include the Battle of Urban and, decades later, the Battle of Queen's Bridge, although in the latter case they were recovered by the Lady and subsequently returned to Croaker. Shortly after the Company arrived in Taglios, the Taglian language became the written language of the Annals.

The modern Annals, beginning with Croaker's, benefited from meticulous revisions, fact-checking, and proactive translations across numerous languages:

Murgen had ... a thing about copying stuff over, in cleaner drafts, and one of his great projects had been to revise Lady’s and the Captain’s Annals for accuracy, based on evidence provided by other witnesses, while rendering them into modern Taglian. We have all done that to our predecessors, some, so that every recent volume of the Annals is really an unwilling collaboration.

The known volumes of the Annals are listed below.

The first three Annals[]

The first three books of the Black Company Annals were called:

  • Book of the Company
  • First Book of Odrick
  • Second Book of Odrick

These three, and many others, had been lost for generations before Croaker's lifetime. Rediscovering them had been one of Croaker's fantasies for years. At the Temple of Travellers' Repose, he found copies of 9 other lost books of the Annals, but was unhappy that the first three books were not there (Shadow Games). About 20 years later, one of his successor Annalists, Sleepy, finally received the 2 oldest books when they were smuggled by Goblin out of the Palace of Taglios (Water Sleeps). A significant portion of them were soon translated, apparently from the first book, by Surendranath Santaraksita and Baladitya. Whereas Sleepy, and Croaker before her, were hoping for an explanation of the Black Company's origin, the contents were actually quite underwhelming:

There’s nothing earthshaking in there, Dorabee... The things you want to know are just the things the writer assumes any reader of his own time would know already. He wasn’t writing for the ages, or even for another generation. He was keeping track of horseshoe nails, lance shafts and saddles. All he has to say about their battle is that the lower-ranking officers and noncommissioned officers failed to demonstrate an adequate enthusiasm for appropriating weapons lost or abandoned by the defeated enemy, preferring to wait till the next dawn to begin gleaning. As a consequence, stragglers and the local peasantry managed to scavenge all the best... This book gives us no reason to be afraid. This book is about a troop of crabby little men who marched off somewhere they didn’t want to go for reasons they didn’t understand, fully believing that their unstated mission would last only several weeks or, at most, a few months. Then they would be able to go home. But the months piled into years and the years into generations. And still they didn’t really know.

Master Santaraksita, Water Sleeps, chapter 38

Subsequent Annals[]

  • Book of Te-Lare
    • Describes a fateful battle when the Company was overrun and the early Annals were stolen. The Annalist and his understudy were both killed so the work could not be reconstructed. Lost but later recovered at the Temple of Travellers' Repose.
  • Book of Kette
    • Written early in the Company's second century. Recorded by the Annalists Lees, Agrip, Holm, and Straw.
    • During Annalist Straw's time, the Company numbered more than 6,000 strong and consisted entirely (or mostly) of black men.
    • One section describes the time when the Company was in service to the Paingod of Cho'n Delor: the Pastel Wars.
    • In Bleak Seasons, One-Eye confirmed that "Kette" was not the name of an Annalist. But before he could explain who Kette was, he was interrupted by Murgen. It is possible that "Kette" was either the Black Company Captain or some intermediary sponsor between them and the Paingod; it could conceivably also be a place-name.

Annals of unknown chronology[]

Annals of the Black Company

Annals by Melysoph.

These Annals are of unknown order, but, they all took place before Croaker's time as Annalist.

  • Book of Woeg
    • Chronicles after the Company was almost destroyed in the fighting along the Bake (apparently a body of water), in Norssele.
    • Mentioned in Shadows Linger, chapter 40.
  • Book of Skete
  • Book of Set
    • Recorded by Annalist Coral. Describes the time when the Company was in service to the Archon of Bone, during the Revolt of the Chiliarchs, which Croaker summarized as "that darkest hour in the Company's history". It seems to have involved a crisis in which the Black Company "met the letter of its commission" but at a steep cost.
    • Mentioned in The Black Company, chapter 1.
  • Book of Cloete
    • Describes the time when the Company was in service to the Syndarchs of Dai Khomena.
    • Mentioned in Dreams of Steel, chapter 71.
    • Given the context in which the Book of Cloete was mentioned (the end of the Siege of Dejagore and the phrase "...and they were delivered...") it is probable this historical event involved the Company surviving a protracted, dangerous siege.
  • Book of Choe
    • Destroyed 50 years before Croaker enlisted with the Company. Later rediscovered in the Temple of Travellers' Repose.
    • It is possible this book was one of those that had been lost during the Battle of Urban.
  • 6 other unspecified books
    • All rediscovered at the Temple of Travellers' Repose alongside the Books of Te-Lare, Skete, and Choe.

Annals shortly before Croaker[]

  • The unspecified set of Annals that were lost during the Battle of Urban
    • Accounted for a 70-year stretch of time
    • At some point during this time period, One-Eye and Tom-Tom joined the Black Company
    • It is possible but uncertain that some portion of the Annals that were recovered by Croaker during the Company's second visit to the Temple of Travellers' Repose (in Shadow Games) may have been among those lost at the Battle of Urban, including the Book of Choe. However none of the recovered writings could have included any chronicles that were written after their first departure from the Temple.
  • Book(s) of Miller Ladora
    • Considered by Sleepy to be poorly written and containing a disappointing paucity of detail
    • Miller Ladora was one of "Croaker's more immediate predecessors"
  • Book(s) of Kanwas Scar
    • Considered by Sleepy to be poorly written and containing a disappointing paucity of detail
    • Kanwas Scar was one of "Croaker's more immediate predecessors"

The Books of Croaker[]

These books were recorded in the language and alphabet of the Jewel Cities dialect of Beryl.

Subsequent books[]

  • Book of Lady (Dreams of Steel)
    • It is specified that the Lady's writings were the last chronicle to be composed in a language other than Taglian. Murgen later translated her writing into Taglian.
  • Book(s) of Murgen (Bleak Seasons and She Is the Darkness)
    • Murgen wrote in an unspecified language at first, but then he rendered his work and the work of his recent predecessors into the modern Taglian language
  • One-Eye's Annals, integrated into the Book of Murgen (Bleak Seasons ch. 32)
    • One-Eye kept a number of poorly maintained notes of his travels in the south, though they were fragmentary, and made little reference to the major events going on at the time. Primarily they describe One-Eye's drunken exploits through the Shadowlands with a number of Taglian soldiers. This includes the robbery of a minor noble's gin reserves after he offers them hospitality, and as a result Prahbrindrah Drah is required to repay the lord for the damages. One-Eye eventually gives the haggard papers to Murgen upon request, and they are integrated into his own book with amendments.
  • Book of Sleepy (Water Sleeps)
  • Final Book of Croaker (Soldiers Live)
  • Book of Arkana and Shukrat (Soldiers Live ch. 148)