When reviewing books, I normally begin by listing and explaining the items that I found, or think others might find, detracted from the work. Then I get on to the fun part, which is talking about the things I enjoyed and had fun with. In this particular case, we’re just going to skip to part two since I have no criticism at all. I predict this book, and it's author, will endure the testing of time, much the way Tolkien has. Contrarians come and contrarians go, but they still line up to talk down Lord of the Rings. I think the same will occur for David Gemmell as the years pass.
Gemmell’s Legend is something I should have read years ago. Living in the United States, I had not heard of David Gemmell. In all fairness, I grew up in the 80’s under extremely rural circumstances. I’ve had no exposure to the SF&F community until lurking around, and then joining, Mark Yon’s forum boards on sffworld over the past couple of years. Gemmell is fabulous. Previously, I had read his Sipstrassi Stones/Jerusalem Man series. As has been said/written elsewhere, Gemmell excels in ‘badassery.’ A main character by David Gemmell seems to be cast in the mold of Clint Eastwood, a la spaghetti westerns.
Legend is no different. The title of the book actually refers to a man named Druss, Captain of the Axe. There is a phenomenal cast of supporting characters as well. The story is of the most primal of struggles. The emotional range covered is complete and intense. Gemmell’s characters plumb the depth of human personality. Each ‘hero’ is sorrowfully aware of their own fatal flaw. Each ‘villain’ is one the reader can empathize with. While reading Gemmell’s Legend I was reminded of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Seriously, David Gemmell is legitimately described as Homeric. What Tolkien did for epic fantasy, David Gemmell has, for my money, done for heroic fantasy.
As an aside, I love everything that has been done with the award given in his name. Truly a fitting tribute to one of the genre’s ‘A-list’ contributors.
Currently starting Blood of Ambrose by James Enge.