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The First Chronicles of Druss the Legend by David Gemmell
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Dec 19, 10

How far would you go for love? Would you travel across distant lands? Would you destroy all barriers in your way? Or would you just believe that there's more fish in the sea and start over?
'The First Chronicles of Druss the Legend' is a prequel to the novel 'Legend' - the first book in the Drenai series - even though it's book number six in the Drenai series. It's the story of Druss who fails to stop the love of his life being kidnapped by slavers and thus starts his journey of heroism with his only goal being to rescue his wife Rowena. The journey itself crosses many lands and years and the story was no doubt written that way in order to show that no amount of time or distance will stop Druss from rescuing the woman he loves.
From the brief synopsis you would be forgiven for thinking that this is a straight forward, heroic, love story but it's a tad more complicated than that. You see Rowena is sold to Michanek...a man she ends up falling in love with. Now before you yell for the wench to be stoned to death for such heinosity I should inform you that she loses her memory and so has no recollection of Druss. As such Druss is fighting his way through lands and wars to rescue a woman who no longer knows who he is. It's all a tad bit sad really. In fact, in many ways this is a rather sad story on many levels. Druss, a noble and heroic figure, becomes consumed by Snaga, his war axe, which happens to be possessed by a blood lusting demon and so as well as fighting the bad guys he's always fighting the beast within and trying not to let evil consume him. Another major character in the story goes from hero to maniacal villain and thus from friend to foe in relation to Druss. Unfortunately, Druss doesn't care as he is consumed by the desire to find Rowena and will kill anyone in his way including his old friends. And that sets the tone of the book as there are no definitive roles for the characters with the majority of them being good or evil depending on loyalties and circumstance.
You would never know from the cover of the book that this is the sixth installment of a series. The reason for that is because this novel can easily be read as a stand alone novel and no knowledge of the previous books is required. As it's also a prequel to the first book in the series, this in essence, makes it the first book in the series even though it's officially the sixth which is somewhat confusing but not really confusing at all!
The author of the book, David Gemmell, doesn't always work to a set formula regarding the conclusion of his novels. Some end on a high note while others can be melancholy and that kind of reflects the characters he writes as he often makes them very human in their ways and likely to change from happy to sad, from villain to hero, just as we change ourselves in every day life. As such, if you are reading a Gemmell novel for the first time, don't always expect a happy ending...which, ironically, is what the woman at the massage parlor told me the other day!
The novel is separated into four parts each of which deal with a different period in the journey of Druss in rescuing Rowena. It works well apart from the fourth and final part where the first page delivers the reader a synopsis of what has happened between the third and fourth part. The first three parts flow on from one another with no explanation needed but the synopsis on the first page of the fourth made me feel a little cheated. It was as if there were parts of the story that Gemmell never had time to write and so it was all summarized in one easy page. That aside I had no other issues with this novel and is, once again, another fine novel from one of the greatest historical fantasy writers of all time.

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