Jacey's Reviews > Legend

Legend by David Gemmell
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's review
Mar 11, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, fiction, dark-fantasy
Read in October, 2011

Yes, I know, this book is nearly thirty years old, so how come I've never read it before – or any David Gemmell books, for that matter? I guess I've resisted the obvious ones, Gemmell, Jordan, Eddings etc., but despite my reservations, I enjoyed this very much – or most of it, at least. What did I enjoy most? The characterisation. Lovely studies of even the most minor characters.

For starters there's Rek, a professional coward, whose life is turned around by a sudden impulse to rescue Virae, a female warrior, sure of her sword arm, but less sure of her feminine side. From there Rek ends up heading towards a siege which is impossible to win. Also heading there is Druss, the titular legend, old warrior well past his sell-by date, but with just one last desperate battle in him as long as his bad knee holds up. It's a battle he knows he can't survive, and probably doesn't even want to.

Minor characters are three dimensional: Orrin, a nicely drawn study of a man promoted above his level of competence and experience, but who turns himself round to become a worthy commander under Druss' influence; Gilad and Bregan, cannon-fodder, farmers from the same village, but very different in temperament.

The story itself is simple enough. Dros Delnoch is a fortress that plugs the only pass through which half a million Nadir warriors are massing to invade. It's the mightiest fortress ever built, but its defenders are too few, and totally demoralised. Hold at all costs is the order that's been sent out and this book is about the long battle during which the six massive walls are falling inexorably to weight of numbers.

I said I enjoyed most of it. And I did, even though books about long battles don't usually thrill me... the problem was the ending. Deus ex machina. The result of the battle is decided by something external which hasn't been foreshadowed, though it could so easily have been. But this was David Gemmell's first book which, warts and all, is a jolly good read

Recommend? Yes if you like your fantasy well characterised with a side order of blood, heroism and military tactics.

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