The trees were laced with snow and the forest lay waiting below him like a reluctant bride.
–David Gemmell - The king beyond the gate - c.1985
The Drenai Saga ; 2
David Gemmell is a big name in epic fantasy, and over the years I’ve read one or two by him. The most memorable being his version of Alexander the Great where he was possessed by a demon. At least I’m pretty sure he was the author of that book I read when a teenager….1 Yes, it must be Dark Prince which I received as a present at some point. I’m not sure if I ever read the first in the series, but that’s all beside the point. Which is that David Gemmell is a big name in fantasy fiction, especially epic fantasy fiction, he’s almost a precursor to a lot of the modern grimdark fantasy in that he often writes books where the heroes aren’t always heroic and main characters sometimes fail and often die, which is what makes them heroes.
Also they are men.
If that description doesn’t interest you then I would urge you to avoid the Drenai Saga. Or at least what I’ve read of it so far.
The first was Legend the story of Druss who led the defense of a fort against a barbarian horde and so saved his people from invasion. This The king beyond the gate is the second in the series2 and it is set one hundred or so years after the events of the first book. But yet again a man must make a stand and defeat his blood-thristy enemies, only this time one of the saviours is a barbarian Nadir warrior, and the enemy is the leader of the Drenai.
And it features men. Who are men.
There are also a few female characters, although they really really seem like they are women who were utterly written by a man who thinks women are just different. Men though. Men are men.
Or at least, men who act with honour and do the right thing, they are men, and they do the right thing because they are men.
Okay, so I mock. But honestly I did enjoy this book. It is fast paced and action packed. So although I do have issues with it and its slightly racist barbarians and not great female characters I think I’ll still read on in the series. It is one of those books to read when you don’t really want to use your brain too much. A palate cleanser in a way.