43. Cook, Glen. The Swordbearer (281 p.)
44. Cook, Glen. Shadow Games (The 4th Chronicle of the Black Company) (311 p.)
45. Sakai, Stan. Fox Hunt (Usagi Yojimbo, #25) (190 p.)
August total: 782
2011 total to date: 12,108 pages
I ran out of Stephen Brust books in the house, and moved on to unread Glen Cook books before tracking down more. The Swordbearer has some interesting takes on the cursed sword archetype, and a twist mid-way through that turns what looked like it was going to be a bog-standard quest against an eeeeevil invading army into a tale of alliances shifting back and forth in a three-way conflict that made it much more readable. Also, the nature of the undead commanders, the Toal, seem to be an early take on the ideas that Cook later executed much better with the characters of the Taken in the original Black Company trilogy. All in all, a decent source for idea-mining, such as for a D&D game, but not worth tracking down just for that--read The Black Company instead.
Speaking of which, Shadow Games starts to pick up the pieces dropped at the conclusion of the original Black Company trilogy (which now form "The Books of the North", whereas this one starts "The Books of the South". Once again, our narrator is Croaker, the Company's surgeon & historian... and now the elected Captain of the grand total of seven soldiers who are left. Lady, the original leader of the Taken is now his second-in-command and (eventually) lover. They end up in a fantasy analogue of India that is being invaded by an evil army that controls all of the territory the Company would have to get through to get to its final destination, so Croaker takes on one more commission--to serve as military dictator and rout the invading army. However, the people there still fear the Company from when it originally came through the area centuries before much more than you'd expect a simply conquered people to do. Then it turns out that at least some of the Taken aren't quite as really-most-sincerely-dead and buried as they'd appeared to be at the end of the previous book, and Croaker finds himself at the head of an army of thousands of barely-trained peasants up against an army that is better trained and outnumbers his--so he may need to pull every trick he's ever tried, and invent some new ones, to fulfill his contract. Good fantasy-military stuff, as the Black Company usually is, but I'm mildly annoyed that it ends on a cliffhanger.
Fox Hunt is the latest volume of the adventures of everyone's favorite rabbit ronin; this time around, he spends most of the book trying to capture wanted men for the bounties on their heads. High-quality literature, as always.
Feudalism: Serf & Turf