Legend by David Gemmell
David Gemmell is unquestionably one of my favourite fantasy authors. For the past 25 years his books have been read and re-read and I am still not weary of them, and I hope that will always be the case. Some Gemmell books I read as a teenager and so I was interested in seeing whether my now older, more cynical self, could derive the same amount of pleasure experienced all those years ago.
Legend was David Gemmell's first published novel, which he began writing in 1976 when he believed himself to be suffering from a terminal illness (he was misdiagnosed). He wrote what was then tentatively titled The Siege of Dros Delnoch as a way of taking his mind off his illness but the fatalism and the exploration of the meaning of human life that runs strongly throughout the narrative is no doubt influenced by his state of mind at the time.
The book was finally published in 1984 under the new title Legend, since when it has become a worldwide bestseller that marks the beginning of Gemmell's highly popular Drenai series of novels.
Druss is the legend, a warrior whose life stories are told everywhere. He has shunned a life of comfort and wealth in favour a solitary life spent on a mountain bordering the clouds. He is sixty years old and death awaits him when he receives a request of help from the defenders of the fortress of Dros Delnoch. The Nadir are conquering all before them, as did the Drenai in years past. All that stands before them and victory is the fortress, protected by six outer walls and the stronghold of the Drenai empire. If the fortress falls, so do the Drenai...
Now while I love Gemmell I am not so blinkered as to be unable to admit that his work is not without fault. But what Gemmell does so bloody well is write the the kind of books for which the term fire-side reading was invented. And Legend is far from perfect, this was after all Gemmell's first foray into the realm of writing fantasy and his skills are from as honed as they would later become. But this is where it all began, the book in which Gemmell stamped his trademark on the fantasy genre. This showed just how enjoyable heroic fantasy could be and in Druss, Gemmell invented an unforgettable and tragically heroic figure who’s never beaten and is able to overcome almost insurmountable odds.
Here is an extract from the beginning of the book:
“A shadow fell across Druss's eyes, the sun died in the heavens and the mountains receded into mist. Pain clamped Druss's mighty chest, soul deep, and he almost fell.
'Proud mortal!' hissed a sibilant voice through the veils of agony. 'I never sought you. You have hunted me through these long, lonely years. Stay on this mountain and I guarantee you two score more years. Your muscles will atrophy, your brain will sink into dotage. You will bloat, old man, and I will only come when you beg it.
Chapter 5: Legend
Legend is wonderful heroic fantasy with great characters and the author has a way of describing landscapes and setting moods that fully immerses the reader in the world of the Drenai. The characters are given just the right amount of back history, not too little and not too much and there is a pleasant mixture of action, suspense and plot. All these elements merge together to create a story that is rich and satisfying.
I personally do not think that this is Gemmell's finest but it surely has to be his most important, as without it nothing would have followed. Legend is a great place to start if you have not read any of his work before and a great blend of sword, sorcery and heroism. A MUST read for any heroic fantasy fans.
This Legend book review was written by Floresiensis
All reviews for: The Drenai Novels
The Legend Of Deathwalker
The Drenai Novels
Knights of Dark Renown
The Drenai Novels
The Drenai Novels: Book 1
The King Beyond The Gate
The Drenai Novels: Book 2
Once the mighty fortress had stood strong, defended by the mightiest of all Drenai heroes, Druss, the Legend. But now a tyrannical, mad emperor had seized control of the fo...
The Drenai Novels: Book 3
The King of the Drenai is dead and troops are invading the Drenai lands killing men, women and children. The hopes of the Drenai are with one man - Waylander - the traitor ...
The Drenai Novels: Book 5
In the mountains of Skeln live Dakeyras and his daughter Miriel. Assassins hunt Dakeyras; there is a price of ten thousand in gold on his head. Why? Dakeyras is Waylander t...
Have you read Legend?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
Legend reader reviews
Steve Brindley from UK
Legend was my introduction to Gemmell's work, on recomendation by a friend. Loved it, re read it recently and led me to read more of his books. Undoughtedly one of my favorite fantasy writers.
Tom from Australia
The very best of this heroic genre. the best.The way that the warriors are more and more defined in the course of battle is potent and highly believable.
Nick from South Africa
This book changed my life in so many ways, saved my life when I was on the brink of madness and brought me into a world of fantasy. Druss became more than a Legend to me. So did Rek and Virae and everyone else in this book. Thank you to a legend for creating legends. A more brilliant book has yet to be written.
Arthas from Australia
Best book I have ever read. It has all the elements of an aswsome book and I have to read again and again or I don't feel satisfied.
Theo from Durban, South Africa
A truly epic tale which I just have to return to at least once a year. I even tell it my children quite often around the fire in our back yard. Minus the gory details of course :)
Ron from Birmingham, UK
Superb. Anyone who reads this book would surely read Gemmell's other books, a brilliant read.
Chris from Ardrossan, Ayrshire
Not the best book I've ever read, but for some reason I need to read it again every few months. I can't fault the story or characters in any way. Also, the more Gemmell books you read, the more you will grow to love Legend.
Allan from Bridgend
If you love heroic fantasy where characters are the stuff of dreams then this book is surely the pinnacle!!!!
9.7/10 from 9 reviews
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
Red Queen's War
The Red Queen is old but the kings of the Broken Empire fear her as they fear no other. Her grandson Jalan Kendeth is a coward, a cheat and a womaniser; and tenth in line t...
A Song of Ice and Fire
George RR Martin
Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun. As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robe...
The Inheritance Trilogy
Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky - a palace above the...
Before the thorns taught me their sharp lessons and bled weakness from me I had but one brother, and I loved him well. But those days are gone and what is left of them lies...
As shadows threaten to consume the kingdom of Southmarch, Barrick Eddon, heir to March throne, battles his way across the sinister Shadowlands. He must journey through this...
The Goblin Emperor
The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his fath...
War with the Mein
David Anthony Durham
Ruling from the island of Acacia, the emperor of the Known World has inherited an apparent peace and prosperity won by his ancestors generations ago. He's an intelligen...
A thousand years ago, the people of Achar drove the Forbidden from their lands. But now the northern tribes of the Ravensbund are fleeing south again, with nightmarish tale...
The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow's Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow...
The Walkers of Legend
Two young men are thrown to opposite sides of a war where both will fight to prevent their homeland, the world’s last pocket of free people, from being consumed by a ...
Mark Charan Newton
The monarchies of the Royal Vispasian Union have been bound together for two hundred years by laws maintained and enforced by the powerful Sun Chamber. As a result, nations...
The Court of Broken Knives
Anna Smith Spark
They’ve finally looked at the graveyard of our Empire with open eyes. They’re fools and madmen and like the art of war. And their children go hungry while we pi...
The Ninth Rain
The great city of Ebora once glittered with gold. Now its streets are stalked by wolves. Tormalin the Oathless has no taste for sitting around waiting to die while the real...
Brood of Bones
Cursed with endless drowsiness, Enchantress Hiresha sleeps more than she lives. Since she never has had a chance to raise a family, she sometimes feels like every woman is ...
King Rolen's Kin Series
Rowena Cory Daniells
Only seven minutes younger than Rolencia's heir, Byren has never hungered for the throne. He laughs when a seer predicts that he will kill his twin. But the royal heir ...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
- Recommended heroic / sword & sorcery books/series
- Recommended books/series featuring royalty, monarchy and empire
- Recommended military fantasy books/series
Best of 2016
Hope and Red
In a fracturing empire spread across savage seas, two people find a common cause. Hope, the lone survivor of a village massacred by the emperor's forces, is secretly train...
The Star Touched Queen
Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father's kingdom. Content to follow more ...
The Pagan Night
Ruling with an iron hand, the Church has eliminated the ancient pagan ways. Yet demonic gheists terrorize the land, hunted by the Inquisition, while age-old hatreds rage betwe...
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
Raithe, the God Killer, may have started the rebellion by killing a Fhrey, but long-standing enmities dividing the Rhunes make it all but impossible to unite against the common foe. And even if the clans can join forces, how will they defeat an enemy whose magical prowess renders them indistinguishable from gods?The answer lies across the...
A Time of Dread
The Ben-Elim, a race of warrior angels, once vanquished a mighty demon horde. Now they rule the Banished lands. But their dominion is brutally enforced and their ancient en...
The Last Dog on Earth
Adrian J Walker
Every dog has its day... And for Lineker, a happy go lucky mongrel from Peckham, the day the world ends is his: finally a chance to prove to his owner just how loyal he can...
The Shadow Crucible
Taking humanity back to their primordial beliefs and fears, Estella confronts Mikhail’s faith by revealing the true horror of the lucrative trade in human souls. All ...
The Dog Stars
Hig, bereaved and traumatised after global disaster, has three things to live for - his dog Jasper, his aggressive but helpful neighbour, and his Cessna aeroplane. He's...
Beren and Luthien
Painstakingly restored from Tolkien’s manuscripts and presented for the first time as a continuous and standalone story, the epic tale of Beren and Lúthien wil...
Life moves at a leisurely pace in the tiny town of Wall - named after the imposing stone barrier which separates the town from a grassy meadow. Here, young Tristran Thorn h...