Legend (Drenai Saga, #1)
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Legend (The Drenai Saga #1)

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  11,062 ratings  ·  449 reviews
Druss, Captain of the Axe, whose fame was legendary, had chosen to wait for death in a mountain hideaway. But mighty Dros Delnoch, the last stronghold of the Drenai Empire, was under threat from Nadir hordes who had destroyed everything else in their path. All hope rests on the skills of one man.
Mass Market Paperback, 362 pages
Published 1994 by Ballantine Books (first published 1984)
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The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienThe Name of the Wind by Patrick RothfussThe Hobbit by J.R.R. TolkienMagician by Raymond E. FeistLegend by David Gemmell
Best Heroic Fantasy
5th out of 426 books — 594 voters
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingThe Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. TolkienA Game of Thrones by George R.R. MartinThe Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. LewisThe Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Best Fantasy Series, Trilogies, and Duologies
95th out of 1,497 books — 6,558 voters


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Community Reviews

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Kyle
The quality of a book is generally judged by the words in it, in addition to the story. It's not just what you say, how you say it also matters.

If not a complete counter example, Legend is a book where the rule loses its effect. Legend is certainly not the best written book ever, but it is most definitely one of the best books ever written.

David Gemmell never finished school, since he was expelled at the age of sixteen, and the unrefined writing is apparent throughout the book. He struggled...more
Dan Schwent
The Nadir army heads for Dros Delnoch, a keep guarding a mountain pass. Druss the Legend comes out of retirement for one last battle. But even with Rek the baresark and the earl of Delnoch's daughter help Druss and eleven thousand men stand up against an advancing army many times their size?

I'll be honest with you. My brother pushed this on me almost a year ago and I wasn't in a hurry to read it. I've read a few David Gemmell books before and it takes a special book to get me to read Tolkien-esq...more
Doc Opp
The plot is simple. The characters archetypes. The world not terribly unique or innovative. And yet... when you put this book down, you feel inspired to do good, and like anything is possible if you work for it. This is the first of the Gemmell books I ever read. Since then, I've read nearly everything he's written. Every single one has been an engaging, inspiring, and all around fantastic read. And for the life of me I can't figure out why, because none of the elements that comprise it are all...more
Mike (the Paladin)
The five star rating is of course a matter of taste.

David Gemmell is (was) one of the most gifted writers of this type of fantasy ever. It's hard to compare him to anyone else as he's sort of in a class by himself. Some compare him to Glenn Cook (whom I also like) but there are only "some" similarities. I suppose if I must come up with a "tag" I'd call Gemmell's work "heroic fantasy", sometimes "dark". While it would be incorrect to say his heroes "always" die, it is true to say that if the stor...more
Penny
In a word, awesome! Druss is now one of my favourite characters. This was my first Gemmell and I really enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to reading more in the series.

The multiple point of view was well done and kept things interesting. I liked all of the main characters and enjoyed watching them grow as the book progressed. Gemmell doesn't pull his punches and it was brutal at times which is something I always appreciate. I was hooked from the beginning and my interest didn't falter.

A most enj...more
sologdin
Nutshell: military dilemma comes to improbable resolution through the intervention of a surly codger who kicks half million kids off lawn.

We know we might be in trouble on the first page with the “slanted eyes” of the foe (1). Trouble is confirmed by “the face was flat and cruel, the eyes dark and slanted” (2). Leader of the enemy is identified as “the Khan” (222).

This enemy is reportedly “half a million tribesmen” (20), and has “more than twice that in camp followers, cooks, engineers, and whor...more
David Sven
A barbarian horde led by the famous Ulrich, threatens to sweep over the civilised Drenai people. Dros Delnoch is the only fortress left standing between Ulrich and utter annihilation. An anthill in the path of a stampeding herd of elephants.

I didn’t mind this as easy, light reading. Something for the beach. At least, that’s one way to read it. Very light in terms of characterisation and character development. Light on plot elements. Light on world building and magic system. Some passable fight...more
RuthAnn
Oh, LOL.

Oh, LOL, oh, LOL, oh LOL.

What the hell was this?

Synopsis: The Nadir (Mongol-type culture hereafter referred to as Chakka-Kahn) are invading the Drenai at Dros Delnoch. The Chakka-Kahn have 500,000 soldiers, the Drenai have 10,000.

200 pages of lead-up lead to 200 pages of hard fighting in which we learn that the Chakka-Kahn have another 4 armies as large as the present one, totaling 2.5 million soldiers, reinforcements will not be coming for the Drenai, and all the good warriors will die,...more
Evgeny
The Drenai Empire (good guys) is threatened by barbarian horde from Nadir (not-so-good guys) where a leader emerged who managed to unite almost all the tribes and wants to conquer his neighbors. The neighbors are not prepared: they have small army and not enough competent commanders. The first fortress which happened to be in the way of barbarian contest is Dros Delnoch; if I understood correctly this is the only fortress capable of delaying the conquest of the Empire. If it falls, the rest will...more
StoryTellerShannon
Disappointing; writing started good in the prologue but contemporary dialogue brought it down some; not enough happening; mediocre to poor characters at best; two antagonists fell in love too soon; not believable; too much introspection on the part of the main character for about 45 pages; too much exposition; too much said that wouldn't have been said by people who lived in that time! And, worse, it was explained in dialogue. Check out how George Martin does it!)
Dawn
Where do I even begin? I just don't get it. I don't get the praise for this book, I don't get the four and five star ratings... I just don't get it.

It's just so stuffed with awful, it's overflowing. It's lucky to be getting two stars from me.. If not for a few (very few) redeeming sections that I actually enjoyed, it wouldn't even pull that. But I mean honestly. Really? Really really?

I don't even know where to start. I mean Rek.. He was just so inconsistent. He's described one way when we meet h...more
Max
Legend was David Gemmell's first book, and in my humble opinion, his masterpiece. The book tells the story of Druss and his trusted ax Snaga. Druss is the most famed warrior in the land of Drenai, but he has significantly aged while living in his reclusive mountain home. When a letter comes from an old friend foretelling an attack on the stronghold of Dros Delnoch by the savage nomads to the north, Druss decides to pick up his ax and test himself one more time.

The story that follows shows both t...more
Jonathan

3.5 stars

It is unfortunate in many ways that fantasy is such a popularised genre right now. I think that there is a lot of potential for literary critics or for authors to look at fantasy in a literary way rather than producing books which are generic. Fun, but generic. This is what I see Legend as, a novel which is fast to read and plenty of fun but lacks the depth of some other novels. Yet it must be praised as one of the greats of fantasy for what it introduced in its old and fallen hero retu...more
Hanne
Nov 06, 2012 Hanne rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Hanne by: Fantasy Book Club
Shelves: fantasy

This is a fast-paced and enjoyable read. I'm still on the fence whether it's 3 or 4 stars though.

There are some things about the book i really like:
The general storylines are very well constructed and well written. And although i'm normally not the biggest fan in the world of very detailed battle descriptions, Gemmell made them work for me. It was all very strategic too, like a play of chess.

Conceptually, I also liked the 6 walls concept and the psychological interpretation and naming of them....more
Jayaprakash Satyamurthy
Don't you just love a good siege? Apparently I do.

One of the few martial historical novels I've enjoyed was Steven Pressfield's Gates Of Fire, about the battle of Thermopylae. Earlier this year, I thrilled to the film Ironclad, even while picking out some of the historical distortions and most of the cliches that it employed. There's just something about a tale of a small force holding back vast hordes while backed against the wall (any wall) that stirs whatever little fighting blood there is i...more
Kristalia
Final rating: ★★★★★★/★★★★★

legend
____________________________________________
1.This book is LEGEND-wait for it-DARYYYYYYYYYYYY!
2.Seriously, one of the best books i have ever read.
3.The book which is officially my 300th read one.
4.The type of book which i always wanted to read.
5.The one that i will never regret buying.
6.And the one which made me cry like a baby.
7.Look at that unresistable Serbian edition cover which i own:
look at that beautiful cover!!!!
Isn't it beautiful?
____________________________________________

Now, i have read a...more
Tracey, librarian on strike
According to Wikipedia (without citation), David Gemmell originally began Legend while being tested for cancer. It was a straightforward metaphor: Dros Delnoch represented him, beleaguered by a formidable foe, the Nadir standing in for the cancer. Perhaps the doctor who was able to tell him he did not, after all, have cancer was a crusty old man who felt obliged to keep tending patients because in some way he was the only one to do it.

But that is, of course, just conjecture. The title, Legend,...more
Eric
Feb 21, 2013 Eric rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fantasy fans
Recommended to Eric by: Bob Egan
Shelves: fantasy, book-club
I just reread this for my book club, and came back to check what I had written here after my first read. This was all I had:
This book was tremendous, David Gemmell is truly a brilliant fantasy writer.
I owe the late David Gemmell an apology for such a half-assed review. While what I said was and still is true, it is a huge understatement considering this is one of my all-time favorite fantasy novels. I will now try to do it better justice this time around.

First of all, the entire story, which is...more
D.E.M. Emrys

A Legend. A living, breathing, Legend. He had carved his bloody name in history with nought but an axe. Deathwalker the Nadir called him. But that was a long time ago. Druss feels a legend in his own rights, or at least as old as one. The only silver he sees in his retirement is the grey in his hair, not the treasures of youthful victory in battle. Death waits for Druss, he knows this, and Death is patient. It taunts him with senility as his health fades.

The Nadir horde march for Drenai. Dros...more
Stephen
4.0 stars. This is the first David Gemmell book that I havee read and I thought it was excellent. A true Heroic fantasy with the emphasis on HERO. The book is full of larger than life characters and none are bigger than Druss the Legend. A fast read, well plotted, never boring and with really good characters. Recommended.
Chris
Really? WTF?

2.5 stars. Rounded down because of the fucking epilogue.

This book started out as a solid 3 to 4 star book, catching my interest right away. Over the course of reading it, it settled into a solid 3 zone without moving up or down. I still liked it, but the dialogue was pretty lame and some of the story was silly. But it was still pretty good.

Then the last 100 pages or so dragged. Fine. I'm a Texan. I can appreciate a tribute to the Alamo when I see it. I respect that, and though it's n...more
Nate
Despite all the hacking and slashing this was a charming book. Nothing's too deep or heavy, the characters are likable if relatively shallow and the plot moves along at a nice, quick pace. There's no bloat or excessive time spent on worldbuilding and there's an easy lack of gray morality which seems to be popular in the genre these days. Everyone's what they seem to be and there's no real surprises. I'm sure to a lot of people that sounds like a dull book but it certainly wasn't for me. Gemmell...more
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David Gemmell is a name every fantasy enthusiast has heard of and many are intimately familiar with. Legend first published in 1984, was the best selling author’s first novel in his famous Drenai Saga. Legend has the position of a classic in fantasy literature, and had been on my radar for some time. So when I found it lying on the shelves of my local old bookstore it was an instant buy and read.

Legend can be classified as heroic-military fantasy although the fantasy elements actually in it ar...more
Xara Niouraki
The review contains some spoilers.

It's finally over. I thought I'd never finish it...I started this book with high expectations because of the many four and five star reviews, but it disappointed me from the first pages. Although there were parts I enjoyed, I didn't really like most of it and I kept reading trying to finish it.I think that Legend has a lot of problems.
First of all, I didn't like the writing style. It's really flat and abrupt, the dialogues are awkward and there were many times t...more
Graham
Gemmell’s first-ever book is a thoroughly engaging fantasy adventure that deals with a massive siege on a hilltop fortress – imagine the attack on Helm’s Deep in Lord of the Rings and multiply it by a hundred times and you’ll be somewhere close to the kind of scale Gemmell achieves in this story.

As its his first book, some of the early writing is a little bit, well, less polished than we’re used to from the author. You kind of wonder where he’s going with the adventures in the forest etc. Howev...more
Mark
Jan 28, 2009 Mark rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Mark by: Blake Kandzer
Shelves: fantasy
"Legend" by David Gemmell is a very good book. I would recommend it as a good read not for just fantasy fans, but for anyone. It does a good job of depicting the nature of heroism.

The Plot

The Drenai Empire is being invaded by the Nadir barbarian hordes, united for the first time under a charismatic warleader, Ulric.

Dros Delnoch is a fortress that guards the northern pass into the Drenai Heartlands. While it is a strong fortress, it is woefully undermanned against the massive horde that is inva...more
Joe
This book is absolutely incredible. It made me cry! Without a doubt, it is the most compelling, meaningful work of fantasy that I've ever read.

Just before writing this book, David Gemmell was diagnosed with terminal cancer and was told he had only a few months to live. The novel became a metaphor for his struggle with the inevitability of death, and his choice to fight back and live instead of caving in and wasting away. It tells the story of a number of warriors who choose to fight a hopeless b...more
Alex
I read this about 11 or 12 years ago and was deeply influenced by the heroic qualities of the story.
The battles are savagely realistic and struck a chord. The main protagonist Rek is one of my favourite fantasy characters, more so since I discovered from an interview online that David Gemmel fashioned Rek from his own frailties.
"Rek was based on me - frightened of the dark, not wanting to get involved in any sort of violence. I grew up in a very violent area. I've got something like a hundred...more
Johnny
If one were to say that Legend contains dark sorcery, extra-sensory mental abilities, and a modicum of miracles, it would lead to the wrong conclusion. Legend does have all three of those supernatural elements, but it is several chapters into the book before one encounters the mental abilities, even further before one encounters the dark nature of the sorcery, and still further before one encounters the “miracles.” And frankly, none of these three elements appeared in ways that I expected or wer...more
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David Andrew Gemmell was a bestselling British author of heroic fantasy. A former journalist and newspaper editor, Gemmell had his first work of fiction published in 1984. He went on to write over thirty novels. Best known for his debut, Legend, Gemmell's works display violence, yet also explores themes in honour, loyalty and redemption. With over one million copies sold, his work continues to sel...more
More about David Gemmell...
Waylander (Drenai Saga, #3) Lord of the Silver Bow (Troy, #1) The King Beyond the Gate (Drenai Saga, #2) The First Chronicles of Druss the Legend (Drenai Saga, #6) White Wolf (Drenai Saga, #10) (The Damned, #1)

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“What will you do now?'

I think I will become a monk and devote my entire life to prayer and good works.'

No,' said Rek. 'I mean, what will you do today?'

Ah! Today I'll get drunk and go whoring,' said Bowman.”
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“By nature of definition only the coward is capable of the highest
heroism”
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