Legend-David Gemmell   Leave a comment


Legend is a fantasy novel by David Gemmell, published in 1984. It was his first novel and began ‘The Drenai saga’ a series of novels on the same theme. The next book in the series is The King Beyond the Gate.

Gemmell initially got the idea for the book in 1976; whilst waiting for test results for cancer, he tried writing a book, which he called “Against the Hordes”. He decided the end of the book would be decided by his results, so the rebels would overcome if he had cancer and the defenders prevail if it was all clear. His tests came back negative and he left the book, claiming it wasnt any good. He returned to it in 1980, when a friend read the manuscript and told him that the story had potential. Gemmell then set to work rewriting the book that would become known as “Legend.”

The plot of the book is relatively simple. The Drenai Empire is under a severe threat from the tribal Nadir people are by Ulric, who has forged a massive empire in the North. Whilst the Drenai leader Abalayn is trying to negotiate a treaty with Ulric, a 500,000 strong Nadir army marches on the fortress of Dros Delnoch, which is the gateway to the Drenai heartlands.

Dros Delnoch is the greatest fortress in the world, a narrow pass guarded by six high walls and a great keep, but its of defenders has been reduced to less than 10,000 men under the leadership of an unfit General.

The fate of the whole of the Drenai empire hinges on the defence of Dros Delnoch. If the fortress can hold the Nadir horde for three months, a Drenai army may be able to be gathered to relieve them. However, given the odds, no-one truly believes that Delnoch can be held.

The novel follows the stories of two men who find they are destined to fight at Dros Delnoch. Rek, an ex-army officer who resigned his commission and took to a life of wandering. He meets the love of his life accidentally on his travels and to support her and her father he travels to Delnoch.

The other character is the greatest hero of the Drenai people – Druss the Legend. His death has been foretold whilst defending Delnoch however, regardless he has marched to the great fortress to defend his people one last time. In this story Druss is in his sixties and much weaker than he was in his prime, but he is still a formidable warrior and an inspirational motivator to the Drenai supporters.

Other characters include,The Thirty, a group of 30 warrior priests whose purpose is to fight and die for those who have called for their help (except for one priest that leaves to continue the order at the end of each great battle).

I am not a great reader of fantasy fiction, only choosing to read the book as it is on the 1001 books to read before you die list. However, I was gripped by the story, actually finding I was able to follow the war strategies, and was drawn into the novel so I could scarcely put it down. I found the main characters memorable. I read the book in less than 2 days, and enjoyed it thoroughly. I would recommend it to anyone, whether a fantasy reader or not.



Posted January 14, 2018 by dianne7 in book review

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