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

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  20,992 Ratings  ·  898 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, 345 pages
Published 1994 by Ballantine Books (first published April 1984)
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Tom Stacey Not sure if this has been answered (apologies if it has). 'Legend' is a standalone novel, but chronologically it is (technically) the last novel to…moreNot sure if this has been answered (apologies if it has). 'Legend' is a standalone novel, but chronologically it is (technically) the last novel to feature Druss. Set before but written afterwards are 'The First Chronicles of Druss the Legend' and 'The Legend of Deathwalker.'

The other Drenai novels are set at differing times. The only ones I would recommend reading in order are 'Waylander,' 'Waylander II: In the Realm of the Wolf' and 'Hero in the Shadows.' These are set about 600 years before the events of Legend.

Hope this helps.(less)
Grog Wilsnatch The series ended properly, all of David Gemmell's books finished and closed the holes, I wish that he had lived longer and written more books but that…moreThe series ended properly, all of David Gemmell's books finished and closed the holes, I wish that he had lived longer and written more books but that is selfish of me. All of his books I rate 5/5 and reread them periodically (less)

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Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I never read any David Gemmell until I was already published. And even then, he first came to my attention after someone e-mailed me, saying something along the lines of, "I'm glad someone like you is here to carry on Gemmell's tradition now that he's dead..."

After I got a few more e-mails along a similar line, I went out and bought Legend, read it, and was terribly flattered by the comparison.

Since then, I've actually won the Gemmell award. Which is flattering in its own right. Plus awesome,
Sep 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Oct 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths .

David Gemmell might not have invented action adventure fantasy, but he refined it, polished it up, and presented his updated version (Against the Horde/Legend) in 1984 to a reading audience who loved every minute of it. Luckily, I was one of those readers back in the 1980s; this book instantly becoming one of my favorite fantasy stories for years to come. But when I re-read it a few weeks ago, I have to admit being concerned it would not live up to my memories
Jun 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everybody
Recommended to Orient by: Emelia
An awesome BR with Lovely Pinky and my fellow Catman, two faithful Cat-holics.

“Get rid of your doubts. Yesterday is dead. Past mistakes are like smoke in the breeze. What counts is tomorrow..”

I love epic fantasy <3 Fantasy books rarely let me down and “The Legend” sure didn’t. Opening such a book I look for a promise from the author, I want to dive into the rich, picturesque world, intriguing narrative, and of course gripping characters with true to life personalities (and of course with na
Jun 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, gemmell
This was a masterclass in pulpy, old-school fantasy with all that entails both good and bad. The characters were fairly 1 dimensional, the world-building wasn't particularly unique or inventive and the plot was fairly straight-forward. For most books these would be criticisms and yet for this one it's almost praise: Gemmell seems entirely happy with this formula and he executes it very well. The skillful execution of these reliable tropes combined with the addition of some other nice features ma ...more
Dan Schwent
Sep 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
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
Feb 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, fantasy
“ ‘Druss the Legend. Mightiest man of his era. A killing machine, a warrior. And why? Because I never had the courage to be a farmer’, Druss told himself.

‘When I die’, he thought, ‘everyone will mourn for Druss the Legend.
But who will mourn for me?’ ”

Now compare the above quotes with this famous line from the movie Notting Hill:

“The fame thing isn’t really real, you know. I’m also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her.”

Two very different kinds of story somehow conveyin
Sep 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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
"I shall die soon ... Here at this Dros. And what will I have achieved in my life? I have no sons nor daughters. No living kin... Few friends. They will say, 'Here lies Druss. He killed many and birthed none'."
"They will say more than that," said Virae suddenly. "They'll say, 'Here lies Druss the Legend, who was never mean, petty nor needlessly cruel. Here was a man who never gave in, never compromised his ideals, never betrayed a friend, never despoiled a woman and never used his strength again
Anthony Ryan
Nov 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The book that really put David Gemmell on the map as an exceptional exponent of heroic fantasy. Gemmell's ability to take archetypes and depict them as real people was always one of his greatest strengths, and he succeeds admirably here. Legendary axe-wielding warrior Druss marshals a mis-matched group of Drenai to defend the mighty fortress of Dros Delnoch from the Nadir horde. All the classic Gemmell ingredients are present; gritty action, breathless pace and a depth of characterisation that h ...more
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
Mike (the Paladin)
Sep 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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
Doc Opp
Dec 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Druss the Legend... what more can I say? Loved it!
Feb 26, 2015 rated it liked it
An unfathomably numerous Nadir army heads to the mighty stronghold of Dros Delnoch to either accept surrender or slaughter their defenders. The old legendary warrior Druss known by many names such as Captain of the Ax, the Axman, Deathwalker, and the Silver Slayer comes to Delnoch in search of a worthy fighting death. When he arrives he realizes he can't just fight because the warriors of Dros Delnoch need him to lead.

Much of the tale of Legend seems to revolve around dying well. There are a lot
Jun 09, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 10, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, read-in-2012
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
Final rating: 6/5 stars


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 lot of high/epic fantasy and i love many authors like Jordan and Martin. All of thei
Nimrod Daniel
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Great heroic fantasy. I really liked Gemmel's writing style and great characterization. It's a really strong book, absolutely a book to remember.
Highly recommended !!!

Jun 17, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: adulthood
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This had the bones of a heroic tale, but didn’t quite deliver the satisfying story I was craving. First, the romantic relationship that develops between two of the characters didn’t hit any emotional soft spots for me. I liked both the characters, they started out well, and I thought the idea behind their relationship was interesting, but most of their interactions were a bit dry. In the end I felt very little for them as a couple.

Then there were the Thirty, a group of warrior priests with the
C.P. Cabaniss
Aug 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Fantasy is my favorite genre and I've been trying to read more titles from the vast collection that exists. This author and series came up in discussion in a group here on goodreads, so I decided to give it a try. And while it was not my favorite novel, I am glad that I read it.

The things I like most about this novel are the pacing and the magic. Now, the pacing wasn't perfect for reasons that I will mention in a minute, but I did appreciate the fact that it was fast paced and didn't have a lot
David Sven
Oct 25, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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
Paul O'Neill
Apr 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
After thinking about how beautiful and awesome this story I, I've chosen to change my previous 4star rating to a 5star rating. Druss is a great character and I was touched by how this story came to be.
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
A great book. Thought provoking, action packed and emotionally stirring.
Dec 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
I don't know why it's taken me so long to get around to this. I've read quite a bit about Druss in the groups here & had the books, but for some reason I put them on my 'read' shelves at home. I noticed this while dusting the other day & the time was right.

This first book seems to be an overview of Druss' career concentrating on the beginning & end with just enough points in the middle to stick them together logically. Many adventures are mentioned in passing & others are simply
Jun 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Diecimila contro mezzo milione

Il capolavoro di Gemmel racconta, con un'intensità narrativa spaventosa, la disperata ed eroica resistenza di Dros Delnoch, ultimo baluardo contro l'inarrestabile avanzata dei Nadir.
La narrazione essenziale ed i dialoghi al fulmicotone permettono all'opera di delineare personaggi profondi ed indimenticabili: l'eroe tratteggiato da Gemmel, non esente da debolezze mentali e fisiche, acquista credibilità in tutte le sue contraddizioni, oscillando perpetuamente fra luc
Jan 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
What a battle book, awesome! Loved the characters, the romance was sweet although Rek could be cheesy haha. And a well rounded ending =)
Jul 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi-fantasy
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
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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...

Other Books in the Series

The Drenai Saga (1 - 10 of 11 books)
  • The King Beyond the Gate (The Drenai Saga, #2)
  • Waylander (The Drenai Saga, #3)
  • Quest for Lost Heroes (The Drenai Saga, #4)
  • In the Realm of the Wolf (The Drenai Saga, #5)
  • The First Chronicles of Druss the Legend (The Drenai Saga, #6)
  • The Legend of Deathwalker (The Drenai Saga, #7)
  • Winter Warriors (The Drenai Saga, #8)
  • Hero in the Shadows (The Drenai Saga, #9)
  • White Wolf (The Drenai Saga, #10)
  • The Swords of Night and Day (The Drenai Saga, #11)
“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.”
“By nature of definition only the coward is capable of the highest
More quotes…