Legend – David Gemmell
My previous experience with David Gemmell has been devouring the Troy trilogy. Needless to say I loved it. The way he envisaged parts of the story brought the myth I studied at university to life in a realistic and fantastic way. It also introduced a host of new and exciting characters.
Gemmel is most famously known for his Drenai series and to say I was looking forward to starting it was an understatement.
Druss, Captain of the Axe, whose fame was legendary, had chosen to wait for death in a mountain hideaway. But mighty Dros Delnoch, the last stronghold of the Drenai Empire, was under threat from Nadir hordes who had destroyed everything else in their path. All hope rests on the skills of one man.
I was not disappointed. Druss the Legend is the type of character you can’t help but love. Think Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven crossed between Lamb in Red Country and you are half way there. Druss is a character who knows what he is and is not afraid of it, nor is he ashamed of it. He is the Ultimate Warrior, a man so famous that people had come to think of him as a myth.
So often in literature this type of figure is reluctantly called back to action to fight one more battle. It is nice to see than that Druss wants to fight as he thinks it is the right thing to do. He arrives to defend the greatest fortress ever constructed to find it ill guarded and undisciplined. He immediately sets about rectifying the situation, and it is here that the story really comes into its own, as his arrival is received with a mixture of happiness and bitterness from soldiers who are both grateful for and jealous of him.
Like the Troy series, Legend is filled with great characters. Rek is also a point of view character and a dam good one at that. Rek is more complicated than Druss in that he is the more typical reluctant hero. However, there is an uniqueness to him in that he is a coward and wishes to avoid any form of combat. The premise of his character is great although all evidence of cowardice quickly evaporates which is a shame. Hogan is also another character that is worthy of a mention.
With great characters, it goes without saying that the dialogue is very good. Gemmell is sparing with his words but has a distinctive way of making the characters and story feel real. There are no grandiose speeches here. Any speech given before a battle is not a chance for the author to write a rousing motivational speech, but a realistic example of what may transpire. Druss for example struggles with a speech and has it cut short. It makes for compelling reading and helps put across how war never goes as planned.
The plot is fairly straightforward, but then again that is all it needs to be. The story revolves around the siege of Dros Delnoch, as the Drenai defend against the insurmountable hordes of the Nadir. Having said that, there are a few nice twists and turns along the way: the introduction of Serbitar and Nosta Khan with their mystical powers adds an extra dimension to the book for example.
I won’t say too much about the ending, in case there are a few more people out there that have yet to experience this great read. Needless to say though that mostly, it was exactly the type of conclusion that I relish.
With Legend, Gemmell has propelled himself into one of my “must read” author categories. I can’t wait to read more of the series.
My rating: 9.3