One of the things I love most about dark fantasy books is their cynical wisdom and fearless truth-telling.

You know the kind of book I’m talking about. The kind the world doesn’t want you to read. The kind that smells of “mystery and dark doings, of skullduggery and revenge,” as Croaker might have said.

These are the books you can be intimate with, because both author and reader are yearning to hear what you are not free to ask nor free to tell when the sun is up. And when the human heart is free to talk, oh what tremendous things are said!

Over the years I have created a special ritual for reading things-that-are-not-supposed-to-be-read. This has no doubt spared my life many times, and prevented many untoward advances from prying eyes.

I fervidly flip the pages of these dark and alluring tomes, alone in my study with these dejected minstrels. I read them by candle light so the rest of the world, if it was to glance in my study, might not see the intimate black mass and would not worry about what I was doing.

But my memory! Alas my memory is less than perfect, no matter how many charms I have had cast upon it. I have tried many things to enhance my ability to recollect the wisdom discovered in books, but they never seem to work.

With that in mind, I sat down a few nights ago during a terrifying storm to copy down some dark thoughts from these novels, with the intent to keep them to myself and my notebooks. After all, it is very dangerous to go out into the world and openly talk about all these untimely thoughts. I then realized that this is the month of All Hallow’s Eve, and the apposite time to share and discuss the forbidden and macabre.

Thus, here are 15 dark thoughts from the Black Company series of fantasy books, unveiling the lunar barrenness of life among many other things.

15 Horrifying Thoughts Torn from the Annals of the Black Company

1 Morning is wonderful. Its only drawback is that it comes at such an inconvenient time of day.

Sweet Silver Blues



2 More evil gets done in the name of righteousness than any other way.

Dreams of Steel

3 Rich men have dreams. Poor men die to make them come true.

Water Sleeps

4 We all have our pasts. I suspect we keep them nebulous not because we are hiding from our yesterdays but because we think we will cut more romantic figures if we roll our eyes and dispense delicate hints about beautiful women forever beyond our reaches. Those men whose stories I have uprooted are running from the law, not a tragic love affair.

The Black Company

5 The stars came out. They stared down with mockery in their twinkles, saying all our sweat and blood had no meaning in the long eye of time. Nothing we did would be recalled a thousand years from now.


6 Soldiers live, and wonder why.

Soldiers Live

7 The man who counts on the aid of a god deserves the help he doesn’t get.

Dreams of Steel


8 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?

The Black Company

9 No religion I ever encountered made any sense. None are consistent. Most gods are megalomaniacs and paranoid psychotics by their worshippers’ 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.

The White Rose

10 I’m an incurable romantic. The essence of romance is an unshakable conviction that next time will be different.

Soldiers Live

11 There are no self-proclaimed villains, only regiments of self-proclaimed saints. Victorious historians rule where good or evil lies.

The Black Company

12 I can laugh at peasants and townies chained all their lives to a tiny corner of the earth while I roam its face and see its wonders, but when I go down, there will be no child to carry my name, no family to mourn me save my comrades, no one to remember, no one to raise a marker over my cold bit of ground.

Shadows Linger


13 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.

The White Rose

14 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 by existing.

Water Sleeps

15 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.

The Black Company

A Final Thought from Croaker of the Black Company

One of the hardest truths that dark fantasy books acknowledge is the uncanny ability of humans to hide the truth from themselves.  Croaker, the medic and also the historian of the Black Company lets it slip that his annals might not contain or live up to the veracity that is traditionally demanded of historians.

You who come after me, scribbling these Annals, by now realize that I shy off portraying the whole truth about our band of blackguards. You know they are vicious, violent, and ignorant. They are complete barbarians, living out their cruelest fantasies, their behavior tempered only by the presence of a few decent men. I do not often show that side because these men are my bretheren, my family, and I was taught young not to speak ill of kin. The old lessons die hardest.

Raven laughs when he reads my accounts. “Sugar and spice,” he calls them, and threatens to take the Annals away and write the stories the way he sees them happen.

The Black Company

These are the types of soldiers any anti-hero would be eager to employ in service of evil machinations or stand next to as the body’s start dropping.