Before Dros Delnoch, before Skeln Pass, before the Legend there was a seventeen year old woodsman and his young bride Rowena. They lived a happy, simple life until slavers attacked their village and carried her away.
But Druss would stop at nothing to save her. With the demon-cursed blade Snaga, he crossed oceans and continents, fighting corsairs, brigands, armies, empires, even chaos beasts to find her. And with each battle, the legend grew.
But the greatest challenge Druss would face was not a warrior or a monster, but an old family curse from beyond the land of the living.
Oh man, it’s been far, far too long since I’ve read a David Gemmell book. Far too long. And this one was perfect. It had everything you could possibly ask for in a book by David Gemmell: honor, glory, blood, war, mystics and evil sorcerers, monsters from beyond the grave, great empires and epic sieges, and even a good deal of romance. And Druss himself is such an awesome character, an unassuming, simple hero who may be brash and may have a temper, but is never completely corrupted by evil.
That said, this is a brutal, brutal book. The pithiest way I can describe it is Taken meets Lord of the Rings. People get killed. Women get raped. In fact, I think most of the women in the book get raped. Certainly, more than 50% of the characters die, most of them in a grisly, violent way. And not everyone is redeemed. In fact, some of the noblest characters fall.
But man, this is a good book. Where other fantasy books start off with the lore of the world, painting an exquisitely detailed picture of the world and the magic and the history, Gemmell just throws you right in and grabs you with the story. Things happen, and they happen quickly. From the beginning, he snags his hooks in you.
But more than anything, the story means something. Not in the sense that there’s some kind of underlying moral, or the characters are all black and white. They aren’t. People do good things for the wrong reasons, and bad things for the right reasons. Some of the most despicable characters rise up to do heroic things, while some of the noblest and most honorable characters end up fighting for evil through no fault of their own. But through it all, there’s so much truth, so much insight, that you can’t help but come away feeling like you’ve been through life and death, and seen the best that both have to offer.
I’m gushing, I know. This book is INCREDIBLE. Definitely on par with Gemmell’s best. I wish he could have written a hundred novels just like it. I would have read them all.
This is the second to last book in the Drenai series that I’ve read. The only one that I haven’t gotten to yet is The Legend of Deathwalker, and I plan to get to that one right away. After that, I’ll probably move on to the John Shannow novels, and then the Rigante series. In three years, I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve read every book that David Gemmell has ever written. He’s just that kind of an author to me. And if he were still alive, you can bet I’d be ravenously devouring every new book that comes out…
Sadly, the number of David Gemmell books in the world is finite. But still, there’s quite a few left before I read them all. And one day, somewhere in the far-off future, I hope to write books as incredible as his. To one day surpass him would be an impossible dream…but as the Ventrians say, may all your dreams come true save one, for what is life without a dream?
Awesome, awesome book. If you’re a fantasy reader and brutal stuff like rape doesn’t trigger you, you definitely need to give the Drenai Series a try. Start with Legend, but get to this one shortly thereafter. It’s an amazing, incredible read.