Monday, February 22, 2010

Book Review : Legend - David Gemmell 9*

Druss the Legend, Druss of the Axe, The Deathwalker, Druss has gathered about himself myths and heroic tales as no other man, and now he is old, his beard white and he feels rheumatism in his joints. Druss is a warrior, he does not fear death itself, but he does fear the death of arthritis and senility, of the loss of himself tot he creeping advances of age. When a letter arrives from an old companion asking for help in defending the castle of Dros Delnoch Druss sets off, he has no intention of returning home.

David Gemmell's first novel was an instant classic of the fantasy genre. It is low on magic, and there are no Elves or Orcs. What there is is the inexorable force, the horde of the Nadir, against the defenders who seemingly cannot possibly hold on.

Druss arrives at Dros Delnoch to find a depleted, ill trained defensive force whose morale is low. He is talismanic though, his very arrival lifts the men's hearts. He begins to teach the men how to fight, and just as importantly in his eyes, how to die.

Gemmell's novel seems on the surface like thin fantasy fare, a standard setting, an implacable enemy. What makes Legend so fantastic though is Druss, he seems like a simple warrior, yet his philosophies on fighting, bravery, comradeship and the acceptance of the inevitable, delivered in blunt fashion, show Druss to have great depths of intellect and empathy. Druss leads by example, he leads the line at every battle, and his men respect and love him for it. Druss as the Legend is shaped by the views of those that follow (and oppose) him, he understands and accepts this realising how important he is as the myth rather than just the flesh and bone man.

Legend is a great fantasy novel, the fairly direct plot is augmented by a good cast of supporting characters and some nice twists and turns, and like other great fantasy authors, Gemmell is not afraid to cut a bloody swathe through his literary creations.

57 of 1001 (I've read this one before, so no advance)

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