There are books with a good premise, with a plot that draws you in, but when you get past the opening, you don’t get what you signed for. Sometimes that is a good thing, but with The Company this wasn’t the case. The book’s plot and direction were clearly written by discovery. And while that works on Tom Holt’s (K. J. Parker’s) comic fantasy books, The Company would have needed planning. The ending was horrible. Characters and the happenings were messy in the middle. The pacing was slow.
However, I liked pondering what happens to a company after the war. It isn’t often done in the fantasy genre. And I liked the friendship (comradeship) aspect of the story even when the past always comes back when people haven’t forgiven and forgotten. Such closeness and commitment to others are rare, and it should be cultivated. Also, there were places where the prose was beautiful and insightful. Glimpses of the author I admire and love.
But I wouldn’t recommend this book. Not at least without knowing the reader’s preferences. I’m sorry. Tom Holt is a great writer, but I think the transformation to K. J. Parker takes time. I have read his Engineer Trilogy and Scavenger (it was better) and all they have the same problem as The Company. The premise is good; the opening is great, but then everything falls flat and goes all over the place. Scavenger had more structure, but it was slow to develop.