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Shadow Games by Glen Cook is the "Fourth Chronicle" of the Black Company series and the "First Book of the South". It chronicles the permanent departure of Croaker and Lady from the northern empire; the Company's southward trek retracing its own steps backward through its long history; the surprising return of 4 of the Ten Who Were Taken; and, the Company's bloody entry into the Shadowmaster wars.

Despite Shadow Games' explicit numbering as "Fourth Chronicle", it is typically recommended that this novel and its direct sequel Dreams of Steel be read after the unnumbered novel The Silver Spike. The earlier chapters of Shadow Games take place concurrently with the events of The Silver Spike. The unseen evil which psychologically distresses the Company shortly before and immediately after their departure from the Temple of Travellers' Repose is in fact the Limper, whose insane pursuit of them is exposed in The Silver Spike. (An unexplained and terrifying vision of a giant bird-like shadow spotted by Murgen and the wizards Goblin and One-Eye in chapter 12 turns out to be the Limper's fire-eater.)

Plot summary[]

With the Dominator finally defeated at the Battle of the Barrowlandthe Lady's Empire is now apparently safe. But at great cost. The Lady herself has lost her immense powers, making her completely vulnerable and unable to wield magic. And, the Black Company has been reduced to merely six men. Its new Captain, Croaker has refused to accept defeat, and decides to march south in search of the Company's fabled origins, a place known only as Khatovar.

Returning to the Tower[]

Hiding her lost powers, the Lady accompanies the Company to her Imperial headquarters, the formidable Tower at Charm. As the Lady tends to her bureaucracy, Croaker is elevated to both Imperial legate and general during their two-week stay. Croaker loses sight of the needs of his men, however. One-Eye and Goblin are especially haunted by the place, which is packed with dangerous sorcerers. Croaker slowly begins to realize that danger – in the form of jealous Tower Guard officials – lurks around every corner.

A dinner date[]

During their stay, the Lady reveals she has decided to quietly abdicate rule of her empire to a new and trustworthy leadership. But Croaker cannot wait any longer, and he informs the Lady he must leave with his men. After they leave, the Lady chooses to follow them. She is vulnerable to her own minions for the first time, and, has nothing tying her to the northern continent anymore. Twenty-five days later, she surprises Croaker at the Gardens in Opal by keeping their promised date. They are dining at the very same spot where Raven murdered his wife so many years ago. The Lady has cancelled Croaker's arrangement with an embarrassing grain barge. In another ironic touch, they will all be taken across the Sea of Torments aboard The Dark Wings, the "very doomship" which had ferried the Company across the sea when they first took the Imperial commission. They pick up some new recruits as well: Big Bucket, Red Rudy, Sparkle, and Candles.

Across the sea: the southward odyssey begins[]

After a blissfully uneventful sea passage to the southern continent, they disembark at Beryl, but rapidly pass through due to their bloody history with the place. Outside the old city, three brothers (Cletus, Loftus, and Longinus) who have deserted the Urban Cohorts also join up with Murgen's sponsorship. In Rebosa, where Otto and Hagop had joined up, they accept Hagop's nephew Smiley. They trek through several cities including Padora, Croaker's birthplace, and finally exit the Imperial boundary. Later, four nomadic roi caravan guards also join, including Patience and Shadid.

Many "long leagues" later, they make a temporary stay at the Temple of Travellers' Repose, a monastery and a haven for travellers which contains a huge library. Here, copied manuscripts thought lost from the Annals are unearthed, left during the Company's northward march so many decades earlier. The Black Company leave after a short stay, after seeing an ominous storm on the way (alluding to concurrent events in The Silver Spike and the wicker man's pursuit south). After they depart, Murgen and the wizards Goblin and One-Eye briefly glimpse the terrifying vision of an unexplained giant bird-like shadow back near the Temple, so they hasten their southward trek.

Shadowmasters stirring[]

Meanwhile the Shadowmasters, a tyrannical group of sorcerers ruling over the Shadowlands in the far south, become concerned as to the Company's movements. Seeing them as a significant threat, the Shadowmasters accelerate their plans to conquer territories north of their own, notably the giant principality of Taglios under the current rule of the Prahbrindrah Drah, and his sister the Radisha Drah. The Taglians had so far defeated a prior invasion due to the help of three foreigners – Willow Swan, Cordy Mather, and Blade – who successfully directed militias belonging to Taglios's cult leaders.

As the Black Company march further south they meet up with two guides whom the Temple monks had summoned: Wheezer and Baldo. They guide the group through One-Eye's peaceful homeland, the massive jungle of D'loc Aloc. Wheezer joins the brotherhood and shortly later, Geek and Freak from the savannah of the K'Hlata are accepted as well.

In service to the merchants of Gea-Xle[]

Mogaba and 32 other excellent Nar soldiers from the city of Gea-Xle next become the newest Company members. One-Eye purchases an imp at a bazaar which looks like Goblin; he uses the strange creature which calls itself Frogface to torment his old rival. Croaker accepts a commission from the merchants of Gea-Xle, and the Company soon defeats a blockade of swamp pirates on a needleteeth-infested portion of the great river. When the mysterious pirate king threatens to capsize their fortified river barge with sorcery from afar, Croaker uses Frogface to force the Lady into exposing that Shapeshifter is disguised among them. Shapeshifter is reunited with his powerful staff, and uses it to cause an explosive conflagration that slaughters the pirates in droves. The top-level sorcerer also chases away the pirate king, who is now revealed to be the Howler... another member of the Ten Who Were Taken who likewise seems to have returned from the dead.

In service to the Prince of Taglios[]

In Thresh, a city on the great river, the Company is intercepted by a group of 4 strange travelers: Willow Swan, Blade, Cordy Mather, and a mysterious woman who turns out to be the Radisha Drah. This group has been sent by the Prahbrindrah Drah, the Prince of Taglios, a sprawling city at the bottom of Croaker's best maps. After arriving in Taglios, Croaker takes Lady to the opulent Taglian olive grove and mineral baths. There, Willow arrives with the Prahbrindrah Drah and introduces him. Later, Croaker reluctantly accepts the Prahbrindrah's commission to militarize Taglios and push back against the Shadowlanders, a group of invaders from the south who are commanded by four sorcerers called the Shadowmasters. Croaker is appointed warlord, or Liberator, of Taglios. With the direction of Lady and Mogaba, the Company trains legions of Taglians in warfare, and they march south into enemy territory.

Joining the Shadowmaster wars[]

Battle of Dejagore by Didier Graffet

The Battle of Dejagore

Now prosecuting the Shadowmaster wars, the Black Company and their Taglian legions use critical intelligence supplied by Shapeshifter to triumph over a significant Shadowmaster army at the Battle of Ghoja Ford. This victory foils an enemy maneuver on the Main that would have resulted in the loss of Taglios had they gone unchallenged.

Pressing onward, they reach the imposing, walled Shadowlander city called Stormgard (formerly Dejagore), the headquarters of the mysterious "Stormshadow". After their army sets up camp, Croaker and Lady finally consummate their relationship in his tent. During the first night of the 2-day Battle of Dejagore, the Company and their Taglians capture the city. Shapeshifter takes the form of a forvalaka and scales the citadel. Inside, he unmasks Stormshadow, exposing her identity: she is Stormbringer, one of the Ten Who Were Taken. Shapeshifter and Stormbringer fight each other to exhaustion, and since Shifter's loyalty to Lady has now reached its limits given his completed revenge on Stormbringer, the Company executes them both. In a decision that would prove fateful decades in the future, Croaker chooses to release Shapeshifter's young sorceress companion, Lisa Daele Bowalk.

The next day, the Company and the Taglians face off against Shadowspinner's forces and the newly-arrived relief army commanded by Moonshadow in a pitched battle outside the walls. Croaker sends his war elephants directly against Moonshadow, who is overrun and soon paralyzed and impaled by Murgen on the Lance of Passion. But despite these victories, the Taglians are ultimately routed by overwhelming numbers, and their survivors retreat behind the walls. Croaker himself is shot off his black stallion by an arrow. When he awakens, he is stunned to see his assailant is Soulcatcher, now the fourth member of the Ten Who Were Taken who has seemingly returned from the dead. She is still headless from the sword blow he struck so many years ago. Alongside Moonshadow who is still impaled on the Lance, Croaker is abducted from the battlefield by Soulcatcher.

The notorious Siege of Dejagore now begins.

From the back cover[]

After the devastating battle at the Tower of Charm, Croaker leads the greatly diminished Black Company south, in search of the lost Annals. The Annals will be returned to Khatovar, eight thousand miles away, a city that may exist only in legend...the origin of the first Free Companies.

Every step of the way the Company is hounded by shadowy figure and carrion-eating crows. As they march every southward, through bug infested jungle, rivers dense with bloodthirsty pirates, and cities, dead and living, haunted by the passage of the Company north, their numbers grow until they are thousands strong.

But always they are watched—by the Shadowmasters—a deadly new enemy: twisted creature that deal in darkness and death: powerful, shadowy creatures bent on smothering the world in their foul embrace. This is the first round in a deadly game, a game that the Black Company cannot hope to win.


The back cover description incorrectly states that the Black Company left the north after the "Battle of Charm". The Company left following the Battle of the Barrowland.

Global publication and translation history[]

In addition to the editions listed in the infobox at the top of this article, Shadow Games also appeared in the following formats and translations.

Gallery of omnibuses[]

All of the omnibuses in which Shadow Games is known to have appeared are shown in this gallery. See Books of the South for more details. The two Russian omnibuses from 2008 are atypical arrangements: they contain the 3 Books of the North as well as Shadow Games.

Single volumes and novel pairs[]

Shadow Games was also published in the following single-volume editions, novel pairs, translations, and formats. They are listed in order of publication, earliest first; some reappearances of the same translation may be grouped together.


Polish Shadow Games front
  • Title: Gry cienia: Czwarta kronika Czarnej Kompanii, Pierwsza księga południa
  • Page shown: Front cover
  • Author: Glen Cook
  • Language: Polish
  • Translator: Jan Karłowski
  • Publisher: Rebis
  • Pub date: 1996; republished 1998
  • Cover art by: Michael Whelan
  • ISBN: 9788371203213 (1996 paperback); 9788371206764 (1998 paperback)

Russian (1997 AST Dragon Age Chronicles)[]

This edition was part of the publisher's Dragon Age Chronicles (Век Дракона Хроники / Vek Drakona Khroniki) series.

Russian series Век Дракона Shadow Games 1997 front
  • Title: Игра теней
  • Page shown: Front cover
  • Author: Глен Кук (Glen Cook)
  • Language: Russian
  • Translator: Дмитрия Старкова (Dmitry Starkov)
  • Publisher: АСТ (AST) and Terra Fantastica
  • Pub date: 1997
  • Cover art by: Luis Royo
  • ISBN: Hardcovers: 5-7841-0351-2 (ACT); 5-7921-0142-6 (TF)

Russian novel pair (2000 AST Golden Fantasy)[]

This single hardcover containing both Shadow Games and The White Rose was part of the publisher's Golden Fantasy series (Золотая серия фэнтези / Zolotaya seriya fentezi). The cover of the first printings is shown here. For the 2008 reprint with an alternative cover, scroll farther down.

Russian series Zolotaya fentezi TWR SG pair 2000 front
  • Title: Белая Роза. Игра Теней (The White Rose & Shadow Games)
  • Page shown: Front cover
  • Author: Глен Кук (Glen Cook)
  • Language: Russian
  • Translator: Дмитрия Старкова (Dmitry Starkov) Shadow Games only
  • Publisher: АСТ (AST) and Terra Fantastica
  • Pub date: 2000
  • Cover art by: Rodney Matthews (left); Gary Ruddell (upper); Luis Royo (lower)
  • ISBN: All hardcovers:
    year 2000: 9785170010035 [5-17-001003-6] (АСТ); 9785792103054 [5-7921-0305-4] (TF)
    year 2001: 9785170109319 [5-17-010931-8] (АСТ); 9785792103054 [5-7921-0305-4] (TF)
    year 2003: 9785170109319 [5-17-010931-8] (АСТ); 9785792103054 [5-7921-0305-4] (TF)

French (2001 L'Atalante)[]

Shadow Games (L'Atalante 2001) Cover

See also the back cover art

  • Title: Jeux d'ombres
  • Page shown: Front & back covers
  • Author: Glen Cook
  • Language: French
  • Translator: Alain Robert
  • Publisher: L'Atalante
  • Pub date: 18 April 2001
  • Cover art by: Didier Graffet
  • ISBN: 9782841721733 (paperback [broché])


Lithuanian Shadow Games front
  • Title: Šešėlių žaidimai
  • Page shown: Front cover
  • Author: Glen Cook
  • Language: Lithuanian
  • Translator: Anita Kapočiūtė
  • Publisher: Eridanas
  • Pub date: 2003
  • Cover art by: Frank Frazetta
  • ISBN: 9789955100591 (paperback)


Spanish Shadow Games (La Factoria) front
  • Title: Juegos de Sombras. Un libro de La Compañía Negra
  • Page shown: Front cover
  • Author: Glen Cook
  • Language: Spanish
  • Translator: Domingo Santos & Francisco Ontanaya
  • Publisher: La Factoría de Ideas
  • Pub date: March 2004
  • Cover art by: Michael Whelan
  • ISBN: 9788484219217 (paperback)


Bulgarian 4 Shadow Games front
  • Title: Сенчести игри: Първа книга на юга (Хрониките на Черния отряд IV)
  • Page shown: Front cover
  • Author: Глен Кук (Glen Cook)
  • Language: Bulgarian
  • Translator: Симеон Цанев (Simeon Tsanev)
  • Publisher: Лира Принт (Lira Print)
  • Pub date: 2005
  • Cover art by: Keith Parkinson
  • ISBN: 9789548610803 (paperback)


The interior of this paperback lists Sny o oceli and Stříbrný hrot – the planned Czech translations of Dreams of Steel and The Silver Spike respectively – but these were never published.

Czech Shadow Games front
  • Title: Hry stínů: Cyklus Knihy Jihu, díl první
  • Page shown: Front cover
  • Author: Glen Cook
  • Language: Czech
  • Translator: Martin Novák
  • Publisher: Brokilon
  • Pub date: 2006
  • Cover art by: Tom Kidd
  • ISBN: 9788086309170 (paperback)

French (2006 J'ai lu)[]

The same French translation previously published by L'Atalante (seen above) was republished by J'ai lu in smaller paperback format [poche]. The first reprints featured cover art by Johan Camou (left), which was replaced years later by the more abstract art of Slava Gerj (right) when the publisher did a cover refresh.
Shadow Games (J'ai Lu 2006) Cover Slava Gerj Jai lu Shadow Games front

  • Title: Les Annales de la Compagnie Noire 4: Jeux d'ombres
  • Page shown: Front covers
  • Author: Glen Cook
  • Language: French
  • Translator: Alain Robert
  • Publisher: J'ai lu
  • Pub date: 10 April 2006
  • Cover art by: Johan Camou (left); Slava Gerj (right)
  • ISBN: 9782290348772 (small paperback [poche])

Russian novel pair (2008 AST Golden Fantasy)[]

This single hardcover containing both Shadow Games and The White Rose was part of the publisher's Golden Fantasy series (Золотая серия фэнтези / Zolotaya seriya fentezi). This is a reprint with an alternative cover. To see the original cover which first published in 2000, scroll farther up.

Russian series Zolotaya fentezi TWR SG pair 2008 front
  • Title: Белая Роза. Игра Теней (The White Rose & Shadow Games)
  • Page shown: Front cover
  • Author: Глен Кук (Glen Cook)
  • Language: Russian
  • Translator: Дмитрия Старкова (Dmitry Starkov) Shadow Games only
  • Publisher: АСТ (AST) and АСТ Москва (AST Moscow)
  • Pub date: 2008
  • Cover art by: Ciruelo Cabral (left); Gary Ruddell (upper); Luis Royo (lower)
  • ISBN: Hardcovers: 978-5-17-051363-5 (ACT); 978-5-9713-8027-6 (АСТ Москва)

Russian novel pair (2008 AST Dragon Age 2)[]

This single hardcover containing 2 novels was part of the publisher's Dragon Age 2 series (Век дракона 2 / Vek Drakona 2).

Russian series Vek drakona 2 TWR SG pair 2008 front
  • Title: Белая Роза. Игра Теней (The White Rose & Shadow Games)
  • Page shown: Front cover
  • Author: Глен Кук (Glen Cook)
  • Language: Russian
  • Translator: Дмитрия Старкова (Dmitry Starkov) Shadow Games only
  • Publisher: АСТ (AST) and АСТ Москва (AST Moscow)
  • Pub date: 2008
  • Cover art by: Luis Royo
  • ISBN: Hardcovers: 978-5-17-049168-1 (ACT); 978-5-9713-7308-7 (АСТ Москва)


Persian Shadow Games cover
  • Title: گروهان سياه کتاب چهارم بخش دوم (بازي هاي سايه)
  • Page shown: Front cover
  • Author: Glen Cook
  • Language: Persian
  • Translator: آيدا کشوري (Aida Keshvari)
  • Publisher: کتابسرای تندیس، (Tandis Publishing)
  • Pub date: 2016
  • Cover art by: (unknown)
  • ISBN: 9786001822155 (paperback)


German Shadow Games Mantikore 2021 front
  • Title: The Black Company 4 - Schattenspiel
  • Page shown: Front cover
  • Author: Glen Cook
  • Language: German
  • Translator: Jan Enseling
  • Publisher: Mantikore-Verlag
  • Pub date: 10 May 2021
  • Cover art by: Rossitza Atanassova & Matthias Lück (cover design)
  • ISBN: 9783961881284 (paperback); 9783961881499 (e-book)


Chinese Shadow Games front
  • Title: 黑色傭兵團 4 暗影遊戲
  • Page shown: Front cover
  • Author: 格伦·库克 (Glen Cook)
  • Language: Simplified Chinese
  • Translator: 樑文琴 // 張曉玲 (Liang Wenqin and Zhang Xiaoling)
  • Publisher: Jiangsu Phoenix Literature and Art Publishing House
  • Pub date: November 2021
  • Cover art by: (unknown)
  • ISBN: 9787559458858 (paperback)


Hungarian Tuan Shadow Games
  • Title: Árnyak játéka
  • Page shown: Front cover
  • Author: Glen Cook
  • Language: Hungarian
  • Translator: (info forthcoming)
  • Publisher: Tuan
  • Pub date: 07 March 2024
  • Cover art by: (info forthcoming)
  • ISBN: 9789635891146 (paperback)


English audiobook[]

Audible Shadow Games
  • Title: Shadow Games
  • Author: Glen Cook
  • Language: English
  • Narrated by: Marc Vietor
  • Length: 9 hours 40 minutes
  • Format: Audible digital audiobook
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • Pub date: 31 August 2010
  • Cover art by: Keith Berdak
  • ISBN: (ASIN: B0041JIHSI)

Russian audiobook[]

Russian audio Soyuz Shadow Games
  • Title: Игра теней
  • Author: Glen Cook
  • Language: Russian
  • Narrated by: Всеволод Кузнецов (Vsevolod Kuznetsov)
  • Length: 9 hours 5 minutes
  • Format: MP3 download
  • Publisher: СОЮЗ, Покидышевъ и сыновья (Soyuz, Pokidyshev and Sons)
  • Pub date: April 2022
  • Cover art by: (unknown)
  • ISBN: 4066338840929