Legend by David Gemmell
Before there was J.R.R Tolkien, there was Robert E. Howard, who created what would later be called Heroic Fantasy or Sword-and-Sorcery. With the justly-earned popularity of Lord of the Rings, it seems to me that many writers and publishers of fantasy fiction have forsaken the heroic ballads for overly-complex, over-sized, and, endless series.
But David Gemmell has not forgotten the heart of a good fantasy tale which is simply heroes (or anti-heroes).
This is the story of Druss, the Captain of the Axe, the Deathwalker, the Legend and his defiant stand with the heroes of Dros Delnoch against the massive overwhelming barbarian hordes who vow to conquer the kingdom. It's the classic "few stood against many" theme that when done right makes one's he... Read More
David Gemmell, who also wrote as Ross Harding, wrote heroic fantasy and historical fantasy.
Drenai — (1984-2004) Publisher: Druss, Captain of the Axe, was the stuff of legends. But even as the stories grew in the telling, Druss himself grew older. He turned his back on his own legend and retreated to a mountain lair to await his old enemy, death. Meanwhile, barbarian hordes were on the march. Nothing could stand in their way. Druss reluctantly agreed to come out of retirement. But could even Druss live up to his own legends?
Some Available for download at Audible.com
Legend by David Gemmell
Waylander by David Gemmell
On the surface David Gemmell's stories are simple and straight forward. His heroes through skill, courage, and a personal code of honor, save the day. But, just barely scratch that surface, and you see where Gemmell's magic lies. In the struggle of good vs. evil, Gemmell shines in the in-between shades-of-grey. He reads like a Western. Dark heroes with pasts who are skilled at violence, but its that skill that is necessary for survival of the good-guys. In Waylander, the fate of a Drenai rests on the shoulders of an assassin. It's Gemmell at his best. Read More
The First Chronicle of Druss the Legend by David Gemmell
The First Chronicle of Druss the Legend is the sixth book in David Gemmell’s non-sequential series, the Drenai Saga. It’s a prequel to the first Drenai book, Legend, and I think it’s the perfect prequel because it actually enhances his Druss stories by not being in chronological order.
Renegade soldiers turned slavers massacre a mountain village and take Druss’s wife, the seeress, Rowena. Desperate and enraged, the young country bumpkin takes up a battle-ax (inherited from his infamous grandfather) to begin a quest that will take him across half the world and last over seven years. Druss fights slavers, pirates, wars, outlaws, demons, and Death itself to rescue the love of his life. Thus is how legends are born.
There’s n... Read More
White Wolf by David Gemmell
Skilgannon the Damned, an infamous warrior/general, has a death-bounty on his head commanded by the Witch Queen, who he not only once served loyally, but loved passionately. As his title suggests, Skilgannon is guilty of unforgivable atrocities committed in war and he hopes to find redemption by restoring the one good and pure thing in his life. While on his quest, he joins forces with the greatest hero of the Drenai, Druss the Legend, who is on his own self-imposed mission to rescue a child.
White Wolf is a typical Drenai tale, but a typical David Gemmell book is the top-of-the-heap for this type of fantasy fiction. It’s a classic high adventure story that, unfortunately, is too rare in fantasy nowadays. Courageous warriors live and die by their own code of honor and defend against evil for the simple reason that it’s just ... Read More
White Wolf by David Gemmell
At its best, Heroic Fantasy can inspire and enliven. By nature, the subgenre is less concerned with realism than it is with depicting nobility, honor, and genuine integrity. In so doing, it shows us a world that reflects the better portions of our own, the world as it should be rather than as it is. At its worst, however, Heroic Fantasy is notorious for shallow characterization, mindless violence, and sententious, often hypocritical, pontificating to justify all that mindless violence so our valiant warriors can get back to massacring villages with rumps firmly planted on high horses. White Wolf is a bit better than the latter, but it’s a good way from the former. It evens out more or less for David Gemmell, but it’s far from the proudest moment of his career.
The novel opens on a guilt-ridden warrior called Skilgannon the Damned, tragically burdened with a... Read More
Lion of Macedon by David Gemmell
The dearly-departed David Gemmell was, in his lifetime, acknowledged as a master of the heroic fantasy, and if you want any proof of that, read Lion of Macedon.
The tale begins in Sparta in the period after the end of the interminable Peloponnesian wars, when Sparta had begun to weaken, and several decades before the rise of Philip and Alexander the Greats. The eponymous hero, Parmenion, is a Spartan — a true Lakedaimonios — with a Macedonian mother. Because of his half-barbarian heritage, he is something of an outcast when we meet him as a fifteen year old boy in the harsh, near brutal training Spartan boys were put through. Despite this, he is most certainly not the angsty adolescent I had expected. Instead, he is a well-thought out, detailed and layered personality who grows and changes as we follow his life and career. It is difficult t... Read More
Knights of Dark Renown by David Gemmell
It's been six years since the legendary Knights of the Gabala rode through a gate to hell in order to fight the evil that threatened the realm. They haven't been heard from since. But they are desperately needed now because the King, once a noble man, has begun rounding up the nomad population in Holocaust style. People who oppose his actions are named traitors and the King's new henchmen are very strong and very... undead. The king's new policies have alienated a lot of people — mostly peasants. Can they band together and defeat this evil? Are there men and women who will rise up and lead this motley group?
Knights of Dark Renown is a deep and engaging multi-layered heroic fantasy. Not one of those that's got a cover sporting a big muscle-man with a sword in one hand and a buxom bikini-clad babe in the o... Read More
In writing reviews of fantasy, everybody makes mention of those derivative books of sword and sorcery which lack imagination and either borrow exclusively from previous works (think Terry Goodkind) or possess so many archetypes that the whole book becomes cliché (think the DRAGONLANCE series). Everybody knows these cardboard Conans and Gandalfs wielding battleaxes, wands, and uttering the worst one-liners published today. But these comments about garbage fantasy are always directed to the “others” — someone else — never the work under review. Nobody wants to step on any toes.
David Gemmell’s Dark Moon is pure genre fantasy. This is one of the books everyone is indirectly referring to when they mention derivative fantasy. Reptilian uni-mind creatures attack in... Read More
Rigante — (1999-2002) Publisher: Fierce and proud, the Rigante dwell deep in the green mountain lands, worshiping the gods of air and water, and the spirits of the earth. Among them lives a warrior who bears the mark of fate. Born of the storm that slew his father, he is Connavar, and tales of his courage spread like wildfire. The Seidh — a magical race as old as time — take note of the young warrior and cast a malignant shadow across his life. For soon a merciless army will cross the water, destroying forever the timeless rhythms of life among the Rigante.Swearing to protect his people, Connavar embarks on a quest that will take him into the heart of the enemy. Along the way, he receives a gift: a sword as powerful and deadly as the Seidh who forged it. Thus he receives a name that will strike fear into the hearts of friend and foe alike — a name proclaiming a glorious and bitter destiny… Demonblade.
Sipstrassi / Stones Of Power / Jon Shannow — (1988-1994) Publisher: Chaos and terror stalked the realm. The king had been slain by traitors, and the sword of power had been lost beyond the Circle of Mist. Armies of Saxons, Angles, Jutes, and Brigantes cut a gory swath across the land, led by puppets of the ruthless Witch Queen — whose minions included dark, bloodthirsty creatures and a savage, undead warrior. All hope lay with young Thuro — in whose veins flowed the blood of kings. He would have to defeat the Witch Queen’s monsters and travel to the land of the Mist, there to seek a ghostly army. And the only one who could prepare Thuro to achieve his birthright was the mountain warrior Culain, the one man who knew the queen’s deadly secret… The legend of the mystic Stones of Power begins with a tale of blood and glory, of love and betrayal, as a boy must come of age amidst the seemingly impossible quest to become the High King.
Hawk Queen — (1995) Publisher: The armies of the Outlanders crushed the highlanders at the battle of Colden Moor — killing their finest warriors and breaking their freeborn spirit. The highlanders are now a conquered people, ruled by the brutal Baron Gottasson. Prophecies speak of the coming of a new leader, a descendent of Ironhand, mightiest of the highland kings. A leader who will throw off the Outlander yoke. But only one highlander carries the blood of Ironhand: Sigarni, a wild and willful teenage girl who cares for nothing save her own concerns. Until a fateful encounter thrusts her onto a path of rebellion. Now, hunted by the baron’s soldiers and stalked by an evil sorcerer, Sigarni will be forced to fulfill her destiny… or perish.
Troy — (2005-2007) Publisher: Troy: city of gold and heroes, beloved of the gods, where wealth, privilege and rapacious greed walk hand in hand, and where the greatest of tragedies is about to unfold. Helikaon, prince of Dardania, sets sail for Troy. On board his ship, the largest in the Aegean Sea, but regarded by many as dangerously unseaworthy, is his trusted friend and sea-captain Zidantas. Also aboard are a young, impressionable youth who has never been to sea, and a deadly Mykene warrior, intent on revenge. Their journey to the fabled city will encompass storm and near shipwreck, personal tragedy and a bloody sea-battle whose bloody aftermath will haunt Helikaon and his companions for the rest of their voyage. Helikaon will also meet his old friend and master-storyteller, Odysseus, and fall in love with a woman as beautiful as a goddess. But when he arrives in Troy — a city riven by the destructive rivalries of King Priam’s younger sons — he finds a city ready to implode, and, with nearby enemy kingdoms eyeing the city’s riches, he knows a terrible war cannot be long in coming.
Morning Star —(1992) Publisher: From the internationally bestselling author of Lion of Macedon and The Dark Prince comes an action-filled new epic fantasy based on the classic Robin Hood legend. Jarek Mace, a thief who preys upon wealthy nobles, is hailed as a hero. But is he a soldier of honor, or just a mercenary?
Echoes of the Great Song — (1997) Publisher: The prophecy had come true. The world spun. Tidal waves lashed the planet, and a new ice age dawned. The few survivors of a once great empire struggled to rebuild, to hold their ground against the rising barbarian tide. Then two moons appeared in the skies, unleashing a terrible evil.