Soldiers Live by Glen Cook is the "Ninth Chronicle" of the Black Company series and the fourth novel in the Books of Glittering Stone tetralogy. It begins 4 years after the preceding novel, Water Sleeps. Within the in-universe timeline, it is the latest narrative.

The original narrator of the series, Croaker, returns to the quill after a 4-book hiatus. The book chronicles the Black Company's return to war after a few years of peace and preparation. They face off against a terrible list of enemies: the vengeful forvalaka named Lisa Daele Bowalk; the notoriously insane and powerful sorceress Soulcatcher; the ingenious traitor Mogaba; a supernatural spy inhabiting an old friend; and, most dangerous of all: the prehistoric evil goddess known as Kina.

Plot summary[edit | edit source]

At the Abode of Ravens[edit | edit source]

Four years have passed since the Captured were freed from the cave of the ancients. Sleepy has taken over the role of Captain of the Black Company who now reside in Hsien, or the Land of Unknown Shadows, another world linked to the glittering plain. Here they have built up a town called Abode of Ravens where the Company bides its time amassing new recruits from the new world and recovering the riches buried under Shivetya's fortress with no name. This is all in order to eventually re-enter the homeworld and overthrow Soulcatcher's Protectorate.

However, the Company is in far from a perfect situation, as the ruling faction of Hsien, the File of Nine, demands that the Company hand over their main bargaining chip: Longshadow. This was the insane sorcerer who brutally ruled over Hsien decades before. Many of the Old Crew have since died, including the resilient Otto and Hagop, which leaves Croaker isolated in a Company he now barely recognizes. In addition, Croaker and his wife Lady are deeply concerned about Tobo, now a formidable wizard, who has almost magnetically attracted supernatural creatures called Unknown Shadows.

Contested departure from Hsien[edit | edit source]

Events quickly escalate after an old enemy, the forvalaka Lisa Daele Bowalk, returns to exact her revenge. Entering the Abode of Ravens at night, she finally kills her main prey, the venerable One-Eye, before being repelled by Lady. Soon after, the File and the leaders of the Company meet at the mountainside libraries at Khang Phi, to continue negotiations. However, they come to no resolution. Sleepy reveals it was partially a ruse in order to steal knowledge from the libraries to reopen the Shadowgate. Infuriated, the File amass their military to fight the Black Company. This forces Sleepy to accelerate their plans to pass through the Shadowgate, preferring to preserve their numbers for the fight against Soulcatcher. Tobo's Unknown Shadows spread fear and disarray among the File's army, which soon dissolves from mass desertions.

At last, Sleepy is able to lead her forces through the Shadowgate. Croaker and Lady to split off and head into the world they refer to as Khatovar, to get revenge against Bowalk the forvalaka. At the Shivetya's fortress, Blade makes the stunning revelation that Goblin is still alive. The little wizard had been thought dead for 4 years. Distrustful of Goblin since he had been in the same chamber as Kina all these years, Sleepy sends him away with the Chu Ming brothers to join Croaker and Lady's group in Khatovar.

Revenge against Bowalk[edit | edit source]

To avenge Bowalk's assassination of One-Eye, Croaker and Lady lead a group of Company members and allies (including Murgen, Thai Dei, Willow Swan, Uncle Doj, Cletus, Loftus, Spiff, JoJo, Cratch, Slobo, and a group of fearsome Unknown Shadows called the Black Hounds) across the glittering plain. They arrive in a place they assume is Khatovar, but later learn Khatovar is long gone, and this is now the Voroshk world.

On their first night, JoJo and Spiff are killed by "tamed" shadows. They are joined by Goblin and the Chu Ming brothers. Lisa and three of her flying Voroshk allies attack this group, but she is subdued in barrage of blows from conventional weapons, specially-prepared magic fetishes, and fireball projectors. Simultaneously, they fend off all three Voroshk wizards: mortally injuring one, capturing the second (Shukrat), and chasing the third away in defeat. Bowalk, now dying, finally transforms back into her human shape, starting with her hands, and eventually ending with her head. Though she cannot speak, she pleads for mercy with her eyes in her last moments of consciousness. But Croaker is resolute in his revenge, and she is disposed of.

The sky is soon swarming with more Voroshk fliers. But Croaker and his group are already safely on the other side of the Shadowgate. The Voroshk leadership attempt to detonate the rheitgeistide the invaders have stolen... but they have fallen for Croaker's trick. Croaker predicted their action, and they unintentionally destroy their own Shadowgate in a massive concussive blast. Their world is now defenseless against a horrendous invasion from potentially every single hellish shadow on the plain.

Sleepy's forces in the homeworld[edit | edit source]

Meanwhile in the homeworld, Sleepy marches inexorably northward from the Shadowgate south of the ruins of Overlook and wins a series of small, rapid victories. She disarms the Shadowlands and crosses the Dandha Presh with little incident, and then captures noteworthy Protectorate sites like the fortress of Nijha and the manor of Gharhawnes. At Gharhawnes, she has Tobo reawaken the Howler, who is forced to join them as Lady still knows his true name. Moments later, they have a secret rendezvous with Aridatha Singh, a high-ranking Protectorate official, who – along with Great General Mogaba and the leader of the Greys, Ghopal Singh – deeply distrusts his unstable leader Soulcatcher. Undermining Soulcatcher at extreme risk to himself, he agrees to help them retake Dejagore.

Aridatha sneaks his Company allies into the shop of his brother Sugriva, who is older than Aridatha by a decade and living incognito in Dejagore. Sugriva supplies them with intelligence that they use to capture the whole city. During the actual occupation, Aridatha lays low at his brother's shop. The operation goes so smoothly that the only injury sustained by the Company was a single broken arm. Lady then rushes Aridatha to Taglios so his absence will not be detected by Soulcatcher.

Battle of the Middle Ground[edit | edit source]

Sleepy's first hard-fought victory against the Protectorate takes place at the Battle of the Middle Ground. Sleepy's forces contend against the Middle Army with the support of the unrivaled, vicious battlefield sorcery of Soulcatcher herself. Company fatalities are serious at first, but then, they are spared without explanation. It is discovered that Soulcatcher has been incapacitated by the Khadidas, one of her prisoners, and left in the same gradually worsening comatose state which had eventually killed the young Voroshk man named Sedvod. But the battle continues when the Daughter of Night takes command of the Middle Army. Finally, once the Daughter and the Khadidas are defeated and flee, Sleepy continues her advance, with the hated traitor Mogaba now at the head of the Protectorate.

Battle at the Shadowlander cemetery[edit | edit source]

While Sleepy's main force is near the Grove of Doom without sorcerers, Mogaba initiates the Battle at the Shadowlander cemetery. Struck from 3 angles, Sleepy is forced to fight Mogaba and his Second Territorial; Narenda Nath Saraswati's right-wing force; and Aridatha Singh's City Battalions. She emerges victorious from the grueling combat, but, the Company sustains a shocking number of noteworthy fatalities, including most of her best veterans from the Kiaulune wars. Sleepy is subsequently dragged down by a horrible emotional tailspin at a critical juncture in her campaign.

Siege of Taglios[edit | edit source]

As Sleepy approaches Taglios and prepares to besiege the city, she sends an ill-advised raiding party to capture Mogaba and Ghopal Singh within the sprawling Palace. Booby-traps containing Soulcatcher's last remaining shadows are accidentally triggered, and among the Company's fatalities are Murgen and three significant allies: the Howler, the First Father, and Nashun the Researcher. She suffers yet another setback after she orders some airborne reconnaissance of the Palace. During this recon, she loses her chief of staff General Chu, her young assistant Mihlos Sedona, and two of the Company's priceless rheitgeistiden in a gigantic explosion which flattens about an acre of the Palace.

During the main engagement of the Siege of Taglios, Sleepy is caught with a small party of her command staff and at least a dozen other Company men in a mechanical trap under the Southern Gate. The trap had originally been designed to assassinate Soulcatcher, but Mogaba now uses it against the Company. Sleepy and her companions are all immobilized by falling stones, struck with poisoned darts, and then slain by boiling oil, without any chance of escape. Her Lieutenant, Suvrin, now replaces her as Captain of the Black Company. Sensing defeat, Mogaba flees the city with Ghopal Singh, knowing that Aridatha will cease hostilities... but he and his three companions are murdered by Unknown Shadows at Tobo's behest. The fighting ends, but the Prahbrindrah Drah is unexpectedly killed. Aridatha steps up and struggles ceaselessly to restore order and peace to the city.

Kina[edit | edit source]

During the campaign, Croaker had become the adoptive father of Shukrat and Arkana, two Voroshk teenagers who became part of the Black Company. He also seeks to recover his daughter, Kina's evil pawn, whom he and Lady refer to as "Booboo" as a half-joking attempt to give her a name other than the grim title Daughter of Night. Beneath the unnamed fortress, Croaker accompanies the re-animated wizard Goblin, who is a shadow of his former self. They use artifacts crafted by One-Eye (the black spear and the haggard hat) to assault Kina directly. The operation is a success, and the monstrous goddess disintegrates in a colossal explosion. Croaker only surives because he has primed his shefsepoke robe. Later, the enraged Daughter of Night attempts to strangle her mother Lady with a rumel. In an effort to save his wife, Croaker mortally wounds his daughter, and Lady is left for a time in critical condition. Lady does recover physically, but emotionally, she is abjectly demolished.

The arrangement between Shivetya and Croaker[edit | edit source]

With the help of Arkana and Soulcatcher (in the form of her white crow), Croaker deposits Booboo's body in the cave of the ancients, where he himself had been trapped for 15 years. He does this in the hopes that she may perhaps be brought out of stasis and saved one day in the future.

Arkana leaves Croaker stranded to make an unsanctioned return to her home, the Voroshk world. So the old Annalist spends several weeks communing with Soulcatcher's crow and soon even the golem Shivetya directly. He and Shivetya work out a scheme so that Coaker can keep his promise to the golem to allow it to finally leave its post as the guardian of the glittering plain. Shukrat finally arrives. She and Croaker, with the aid of Soulcatcher's white crow and some Unknown Shadows, rescue Arkana from her imprisonment at Rhuknavr. This proves to be Croaker's final adventure in the Annals.

After tying up that last loose end, Croaker's plan to honor his agreement with Shivetya is revealed. The Annalist and golem have agreed to switch bodies: Croaker's consciousness enters the golem's immortal form, allowing him to endow Lady with her lost powers. Meanwhile the exhausted golem can finally finish its own days in a mortal man's dying body. Croaker passes on his role as Annalist to both his adopted daughters, laying the pen down and accepting his new role as the undying and all-knowing guardian of the plain.

From the back cover[edit | edit source]

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.

Global publication and translation history[edit | edit source]

Gallery of omnibuses[edit | edit source]

All of the omnibuses in which Soldiers Live is known to have appeared are shown in this gallery. See Books of Glittering Stone for more details.

Single and double volumes[edit | edit source]

Soldiers Live was published in the following single- and double-volume editions, translations, and formats. They are listed in order of publication, earliest first; some reappearances of the same translation may be grouped together.

Polish[edit | edit source]

Polish Soldiers Live front.jpg
  • Title: Żołnierze żyją
  • Page shown: Front cover
  • Author: Glen Cook
  • Language: Polish
  • Translator: Jan Karłowski
  • Publisher: Rebis
  • Pub date: 2001
  • Cover art by: Keith Parkinson
  • ISBN: 9788373010963 / 8373010963 (paperback)


Russian (2001 AST Dragon Age Chronicles)[edit | edit source]

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

Russian series Век Дракона Soldiers Live 2001 front.jpg
  • Title: Солдаты живут
  • Page shown: Front cover
  • Author: Глен Кук (Glen Cook)
  • Language: Russian
  • Translator: Андрей Вадимович Новиков (Andrey Vadimovich Novikov)
  • Publisher: АСТ (AST) and Terra Fantastica
  • Pub date: 2001
  • Cover art by: Luis Royo
  • ISBN: Hardcovers: 5-17-007834-X (ACT); 5-7921-0412-3 (TF)


Russian (2001 AST Golden Fantasy)[edit | edit source]

This hardcover was part of the publisher's Golden Fantasy series (Золотая серия фэнтези / Zolotaya seriya fentezi).

Russian series Zolotaya fentezi Soldiers Live 2001 front.jpg
  • Title: Солдаты живут
  • Page shown: Front cover
  • Author: Глен Кук (Glen Cook)
  • Language: Russian
  • Translator: Андрей Вадимович Новиков (Andrey Vadimovich Novikov)
  • Publisher: АСТ (AST) and Terra Fantastica
  • Pub date: 2001
  • Cover art by: Gary Ruddell (upper); Luis Royo (lower); unknown (left)
  • ISBN: Hardcovers: 5-17-007267-8 (ACT); 5-7921-0412-3 (TF)


French 2 volumes (2006 L'Atalante)[edit | edit source]

The French translation, first published by L'Atalante, was divided into two volumes.

Volume I:

Soldiers Live Part 1 L'Atalante Back.jpg

Soldiers Live Part 1 L'Atalante Cover.jpg

  • Title: Soldats de pierre, I
  • Page shown: Front & back covers
  • Author: Glen Cook
  • Language: French
  • Translator: Frank Reichert
  • Publisher: L'Atalante
  • Pub date: January 2006
  • Cover art by: Didier Graffet
  • ISBN: 9782841723232 (paperback [broché])


Volume II:

Soldiers Live Part 2 L'Atalante Back.jpg

Soldiers Live Part 2 L'Atalante Cover.jpg

  • Title: Soldats de pierre, II
  • Page shown: Front & back covers
  • Author: Glen Cook
  • Language: French
  • Translator: Frank Reichert
  • Publisher: L'Atalante
  • Pub date: January 2006
  • Cover art by: Didier Graffet
  • ISBN: 9782841723249 (paperback [broché])


Russian (2008 AST Dragon Age 2)[edit | edit source]

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

Russian series Vek drakona 2 Soldiers Live 2008 front.jpg
  • Title: Солдаты живут
  • Page shown: Front cover
  • Author: Глен Кук (Glen Cook)
  • Language: Russian
  • Translator: Андрей Вадимович Новиков (Andrey Vadimovich Novikov)
  • Publisher: АСТ (AST); АСТ Москва (AST Moscow)
  • Pub date: 2008
  • Cover art by: Luis Royo
  • ISBN: Hardcovers: 978-5-17-050422-0 (ACT); 978-5-9713-8324-6 (АСТ Москва)


Spanish[edit | edit source]

Spanish Soldiers Live (La Factoria) front.jpg
  • Title: El retorno de los soldados. La décima crónica de La Compañía Negra. Libro cuarto de La Piedra reluciente
  • Page shown: Front cover
  • Author: Glen Cook
  • Language: Spanish
  • Translator: David Cruz Acevedo
  • Publisher: La Factoría de Ideas
  • Pub date: 10 April 2011 (paperback); December 2014 (e-book)
  • Cover art by: Nicholas Jainschigg
  • ISBN: 9788498006872 (paperback); 9788490185148 (e-book)


French 2 volumes (2011 J'ai lu)[edit | edit source]

The same French translation previously published by L'Atalante (seen above) was republished in 2011 by J'ai lu in smaller paperback format [poche] with cover art by Johan Camou. It was also divided into two volumes. These artworks were replaced in 2019 by the more abstract art of Slava Gerj (right) when the publisher refreshed the covers.

Volume I:

Slava Gerj Jai lu Soldiers Live 1 front.jpg

Soldiers Live Part 1 (J'ai lu 2011) Cover.jpg

  • Title: Les Annales de la Compagnie Noire 12: Soldats de pierre, Première partie
  • Page shown: Front cover
  • Author: Glen Cook
  • Language: French
  • Translator: Frank Reichert
  • Publisher: J'ai lu
  • Pub date: 13 April 2011
  • Cover art by: Johan Camou (left); Slava Gerj (right)
  • ISBN: 9782290032107 (small paperback [poche])


Volume II:

Slava Gerj Jai lu Soldiers Live 2 front.jpg

Soldiers Live Part 2 (J'ai lu 2011) Cover.jpg

  • Title: Les Annales de la Compagnie Noire 13: Soldats de pierre, Deuxième partie
  • Page shown: Front cover
  • Author: Glen Cook
  • Language: French
  • Translator: Frank Reichert
  • Publisher: J'ai lu
  • Pub date: 12 October 2011
  • Cover art by: Johan Camou (left); Slava Gerj (right)
  • ISBN: 9782290032770 (small paperback [poche])


Bulgarian[edit | edit source]

Bulgarian 10 Soldiers Live front.jpg
  • Title: Войниците са живи: Четвърта книга за Блестящия камък (Хрониките на Черния отряд X)
  • Page shown: Front cover
  • Author: Глен Кук (Glen Cook)
  • Language: Bulgarian
  • Translator: Пепа Соколова (Pepa Sokolova)
  • Publisher: Лира Принт (Lira Print)
  • Pub date: 2014
  • Cover art by: Raymond Swanland
  • ISBN: 9789548610988 (paperback)
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