Three stars; ultimately it's just not my kind of book. As far as plot, it mostly consists of a series of encounters for the Black Company, starting with getting out of their current contract and accepting employment from the Lady. I don't mind this style of plot in my books, but not everyone may enjoy.The pacing of the story was uneven at best. Mostly the narrative stopped on plot points germane to their particular tasks for the Lady, but occasionally it takes time to linger on company dynamics. Those interludes mostly seem to consist of card games. I'm definitely more used to the epic fantasy that tells you what the road was like, the color of the blooming flowers, the sunsets, etc. along the way (David Eddings, anyone?).The characters felt mostly archetypal, sketch portraits done in greys. There's a grizzled captain who knows more than he lets on and has a hidden moral core; the fallen warrior; the morally ambiguous doctor; the orphan foundling who will be the figurehead for a new movement. That said, the small touches helped make them interesting to me and left me intrigued: the wizards' bickering, Darling's finger language, Soulcatcher's voices.The world seemed interesting, as much as we are given. The concept of the Taken was fascinating. The forvalaka was fascinating as well, but language is odd--why did we go from a made-up word to "Taken?" I think the forvalaka was one of the only created words, which sits oddly with the language of the story. Flying carpets were introduced late and seemed mostly to be a plot device. They seemed at odds with the conventional methods of horseback, cart, walking, ship.Overall it was a kind of a *shrug* kind of book for me. I didn't hate it, but I was able to put it down and even fall asleep while reading it, and I've been known to stay up all night reading. However, I'll check out the next in the series out of curiosity, and because Cook has so many fans, I'm trying to see the appeal.