Finished the last Black Company book last night. Could have finished it a week ago, but I only had a 100 pages left and I needed a free night where I could savor it. All told, between nine BC books and portions of The Instrumentalities of the Night, I've gone through about 4,000 pages of his fiction this summer. That also includes a few forays into his Garret P.I. books, a series of hardboiled detective fiction set in a fantasyland. I don't really care for the hardboiled-ness (although they have the typical Cook flavor), so I didn't actually finish any of them.
My article on Instrumentalities should be ready shortly. I read somewhere that one should not submit anything in the first two or last two weeks of a semester, so I'll hold off until mid-September to send that off. Fingers crossed.
Cook, though, really is an unacknowledged master. The other day, I read an old New York Review of Science Fiction article by Steven Erickson, who writes in a similar mode of Gritty Fantasy as Cook. He was complaining, after reading through The Cambridge Companion of Fantasy, that fantasy scholars almost entirely ignore epic fantasy writers -- who are, really, the big names in the genre. I realized that he was absolutely right. Nearly every book I read on fantasy ignores the contemporary genre guys. Jamie Williamson stops at the "bestseller" people in the 1980s; even here, he lumps Stephen R. Donaldson into the very same category as the first book of Terry Brooks (who has seen grown as a writer since his blatant rip-off, The Sword of Shannara). Helen Young explicitly deals with popular fantasy but, as her topic is whiteness, of course she has never good to say about it. So, in a way, I think fantasy scholarship really does these writers a disservice.