Sword In The Storm by David Gemmell

Rating 9.0/10
A book about honor, a book about misunderstanding and retribution.

Sword in the Storm tells us about a young hero, Connavar of the Rigante. Burdened by the thought of his father being a coward, he’s eager to prove himself. His thoughts are often shadowed, but his heart beats true. The Seidh, malevolent forces of nature, sense his inner turmoil and decide to use him as a plaything, granting him one wish… When one day a bear attacks him and his friends, he refuses to give ground and attacks the animal, earning him mortal wounds and eternal glory. Against all odds he survives, and returns to his town a hero. This is only the beginning of his perilous journey… Will he be able to live up to his reputation and dreams, or will his inner demons consume him?

Here follows a quote from the book, that made quite an impression on me:

“I am not saying do not fight. I am saying do not hate. It is not war that leads to murderous excesses, but hate. Whole villages, cities, peoples wiped out. Hatred is like a plague. It is all-consuming, and it springs from man to man. Our enemies become demons, their wives the mothers of demons, their children infant demons. You understand? We tell stories of our enemies eating babes […]. Our hearts turn dark and, in turn, we visit a terrible retribution upon those we now hate. But hatred never dies, Conn. We plant the seeds of it in every action inspired by it. Kill a man, and his son will grow to hate you and seek revenge. When he obtains that revenge your son will learn to hate him. Can you see what I’m saying?”

The only thing about this series that bothered me at first is that several major events are skipped entirely. The story builds up to an important event and then in the next paragraph you’re several years further. But then again, Sword in the Storm is nót about a single event. Sword in the Storm is a book about honor, a book about misunderstanding and retribution. But most of all, Sword in the Storm is a book about consequences. An imagined slight, a slip of the tongue, it doesn’t take much to sow terrible seeds...

Koen Peters on David Gemmell
David Gemmell is a master of Heroic Fantasy. You won’t find any ‘Prince Charming’s in his works though! Well, you might, but not as a main character... People, after all, are not perfect. Far from it. Gemmells characters are always struggling with their inner demons. Past mistakes, hubris, greed, you name it. Yet in spite of these ‘flaws’, the protagonists fight for what they think is right. Or just because they like fighting…

The worlds Gemmell creates are dark, cruel and full of danger. Mainly because of the human inhabitants, since there is no creature that can match the cruelty of humanity. The civilizations brought to life by Gemmell are often similar to known empires, tribes, etc in a lot of ways. You’ll find disciplined armies fighting in formation, swarms of barbarians, howling horse-men, blade-dancers, shamans, and any other fighting style your heart could desire. Magic is a part of his worlds, but it’s not very common and the focus is on physical prowess. Gemmell is obviously an expert on anything medieval, from obvious things like sieges and vassals, to impressive details like the discovery of the leather strap…

In short, a book by David Gemmell is about morally grey heroes, who fight for what they believe in, and regularly get kicked in the nuts by fate. A Tavern brawler who selflessly stands up when faced with injustice. A Drunkard that, without a moment of hesitation, sacrifices his life in favor of an innocent family. A Burly woodcutter that travels to all corners of the world to rescue his captured crush. A pacifistic priest forced to slay numerous enemies. These tales tell of honor and glory, duty and loyalty, courage and resolve, all coated in a wonderful blend of action, black humor and suspense.

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All reviews for: The Rigante Novels

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