Mar 302012
 

Orbit have re-released 6 of David Gemmell’s Drenai books with brand new cover art.

You can read the press release here on the Orbit website.

A quote from that press release,

To celebrate Gemmell’s legacy, we’ve reissued the classic Drenai novels that orginally earned him his reputation as a master storyteller. All six novels have gorgeous new covers courtesy of our designer Sean Garrehy and the talented illustrator Tim Byrne, who together have perfectly captured the grittiness of Gemmell’s books. In addition, two of the biggest names in modern fantasy – Brent Weeks and Joe Abercrombie – have given their seals of approval.

I think the covers look fantastic and reflect the gritty realism that David brought to all of his work.  If you’ve never read David Gemmell before, then check out my post on why you should.  If you have read Gemmell and are looking for something similar, check out this brief list.

Jun 182008
 

Winter Warriors has that essential element that keeps me coming back to David’s books over and over again. I was tired, visiting my parents-in-law, and going to bed. It was around 11pm, and I thought I’d read a couple of pages, since I wasn’t really in the mood to read too much.

At 4am, I put the book down, finished, every page read. It’s an indescribable element of David’s work – that must continue reading quality that I really miss in other authors like Goodkind, Jordan, Martin, etc. Oh I enjoy the books they write, but I can pause for weeks between chapters and not really feel like I’m missing out. Winter Warriors on the other hand, I just *had* to finish, I needed to get to the end.

Emotional, passionate, thoughtful, insightful, and carrying those things along,
a story about heroes and heroism. Someone recently mentioned that it didn’t feel like a Drenai novel to them – too much magic. For me, Winter Warriors has all the core Drenai elements. People sticking to their guns, come hell or high water, doing the right thing, painful as it might be. To me, that’s the Drenai nation in one.

The story is intriguing, and all the more interesting for the high magic content, the characters are colourful, interesting, three-dimensional. Some might argue we have stereotypical characters here, the mighty and swift killer, the huge bear-like swordsman, the reserved thoughtful archer. Yet, each of those characters brings something new. To give one example, our ignorant, abusive, huge obnoxious warrior, also delivers a baby half-way through the story. David uses those extra details to flesh out the cliches we want, demand and love.

I felt the ending given by the ‘good’ demon was somewhat obvious perhaps, although I do wonder if that was the point – that the ‘bad’ demon was so engulfed in selfish revenge that he could never consider his brother being so selfless. There were many excellent highlights during the book, the relationship between the young lad and the archer is excellent.

The surprise with the amulet at the end is a nice touch, and Antikos comes through to prove that you can change the nature of man! All-in-all, an excellent story, bringing some of David’s favourite themes together, possession, age, usefulness, revenge, good vs evil and what is evil, and lumping them in with more demons than you can shake a stick at.

We also had a very short siege to keep those folk happy!

(This review was written sometime in the late 90′s for the original Gemmell Mania website)

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: David Gemmell
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Jun 182008
 

Without doubt, one of David’s best books to date. I would be hard pushed to say if Legend, Waylander or Hero in the Shadows were his best work.

David has taken the character of Waylander and given it a depth that we’ve never seen before. The emotional complexity in this book is far greater than anything David has achieved before, although we did get a glimpse at this in Midnight Falcon. The book contains some old favourites, and a small number of new and excellent personalities. I feel that David has succeeded in giving us just the right number of players in the plot, whereas in Sword in the Storm and Midnight Falcon, there were a lot more people (or at least, it felt like there were). In Hero in the Shadows we get a small but superb supporting cast. You will love Yu Yu – I promise.

The mix of emotion is well balanced, with humour offsetting the darker moments, and some scenes that will rip the heart from your chest and leave you gasping. Well, they did me anyway. Waylander is everything we’ve come to love, deadly, swift and merciless, but expect to see something new from him as well. The story is pretty normal fare, Waylander must save the world from an ancient and all-encompassing evil, aided by the best swordsman the Chiatze people have to offer, and by a ditch digger. A legendary ditch digger no less.

However, I don’t read David’s work to analyse every plot twist, I read his work because it’s moving, emotional, gritty and some of the best storytelling ever written. David manages
to look at many of his favourite themes, honour, belief, the nature of good and evil, age, remorse, and yet once again, gives us something new for each of them, and expands some of them. We see how belief can sometimes blind and lack of it can sometimes free the soul.

Oh, it doesn’t have any sieges in it.

This book also hints at something which has been present in some of David’s books before – that perhaps all of his stories are interlinked, taking part on a tapestry of a multidimensional universe. There is also an interesting, but short comment, on the reason why David’s heroes are heroes. Hero in the Shadows won’t disappoint anyone who reads it for those reasons. I can’t praise it highly enough.

(This review was written not long after it was published in 2000, for the original Gemmell Mania website)

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: David Gemmell
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Jun 182008
 

David returns to the world of Waylander, and we get a chance to see what happens to our ‘hero’ once his adopted children grow, and his wife has died.

Initially he is almost in a daze, just getting through life, but then another old friend drags up an old grudge, and a collection of other circumstances bring Waylander back. The story swings into action, and while this story is dark, it’s not quite as dark as the original, and Waylander finds within himself things we were never sure were there before. The story is gripping, fast paced and tense, and the characters are as interesting as ever. A good sequel, well worth a read.

(This review was written sometime in the late 90′s for the original Gemmell Mania website)

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: David Gemmell
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Jun 182008
 

Another excellent Drenai book from David. While written after the previous three (two?) Drenai tales in real terms, the story tells of a time before those books (I think). We meet Waylander, one of David’s darkest heroes, certainly the darkest to date when this book was written (although since then, others have appeared darker still.)

Waylander’s life has been tragic and deadly, and it is affected deeply when he rescues a priest, against his better judgement, but no less so than the life of the priest he saves. The Earl of Bronze makes another appearance, and we learn of the creation of the Thirty – and that tale alone is good enough to make the book brilliant. As usual the book is awash with emotions such as hate, love, joy, sadness and heroism. Waylander finds himself falling in love, at a time when that act will kill him. We meet the Brotherhood, the evil counterpart to the source priests.

All-in-all, this is a gripping tale, told with slightly less finesse than Legend and King Beyond the Gate, but excellent none-the-less. Well worth the read, and another excellent Drenai tale.

(This review was written sometime in the late 90′s for the original Gemmell Mania website)

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: David Gemmell
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Jun 182008
 

I strongly feel that David reaches briefly back to his original style with this book. I appreciate that’s somewhat of a silly comment, considering this is about David’s fourth book, but our heroes are much less dark, much more like the heroes in Legend.

The story is fast paced, lively and full of character and characters. The plot is simple, but I was drawn in through that simplicity. The characters are believable (in as far as any of David’s characters are), and we come to learn about them throughout the book. Dreams are shattered, legends made, and as usual, lots of people die, the ending however, is not quite as bitter-sweet as some of the other books. Not his best, but still better than much of the competition.

(This review was written sometime in the late 90′s for the original Gemmell Mania website)

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: David Gemmell
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Jun 182008
 

Another excellent novel and story from David. Set 100 years or so after Legend (his first book) King Beyond the Gate tells how the Drenai are crushed beneath their own evil emperor. The story is gripping, and looks hard at friendship, love and war. It is far deadlier than Legend – if you thought that was bloody and caused the death of many loved characters, the end of King Beyond the Gate will make you think again. However, while death is rampant, it doesn’t feel out of place. The story is what I now recognise as ‘typical’ Gemmell heroism, and ensures you read from start to finish.

It’s not quite as good as Legend, I didn’t become as attached to the characters as I did to Druss and Rek, but you still feel for them when the knife falls.

(This review was written sometime in the late 90′s for the original Gemmell Mania website)

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: David Gemmell
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

Jun 182008
 

The first, and still the best if you ask me. David Gemmell’s first novel, and the first in the Drenai saga. An excellent epic heroic fantasy. It never tries to be anything grander than an heroic struggle for freedom and life. It avoids many of the cliches of ‘modern’ fantasy, and yet covers enough common ground that the reader is not left feeling lost. A story of invasion and war, and yet a story on a very personal level. Gemmell keeps you guessing right up until the last minute before giving you one of the most gripping and emotional endings to a book for many a year.

(This review was written sometime in the late 90′s for the original Gemmell Mania website)

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: David Gemmell
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)