The King Beyond The Gate by David Gemmell
Review by Joshua S Hill
David Gemmell is one of those beloved authors whose name has been written in stone as a fantasy author that has to be on a serious fantasy fans shelf. I donít begrudge that at all, because itís mostly true. But itís true in the same way that the Original Series of Star Trek has to be on a Trekkieís shelf, even though it isnít the best TV ever made.
The King Beyond the Gate is the second fantasy novel by Gemmell in his Drenai series, originally published in 1985 (a year after my birth, if that). So let me preface the following review by saying that I havenít read anything beyond this book, so I assume that Gemmell gets better and better.
For the moment though, the King Beyond the Gate is a good, simple book, that I loved reading and would recommend. It doesnít, however, rate much against some of the 8ís, 9ís and 10ís out of 10 on the site.
The story is set about a century following Legend, but in the same area with the same races. The same racial tensions exist, and there is a new bad guy to defeat, but this time on the other side of the line. Weíre quickly introduced to our lead characters, and follow their tale as they try and defeat said bad guy and free the land from tyranny.
The characters are very simple, with very little character growth or evolution. They change, sure, but itís a firework change; one minute a bundle of explosives the next minute exploded. There is nothing subtle about the characters, and they are very predictable in their responses to each other, events and death.
Much of the story is as predictable as the characters, but makes for an entertaining and quick read which sees the book finished promptly.
None of this makes for an unsatisfactory book. Donít jump into the book expecting literary genius, but rather an enjoyable and fun romp.
The only thing I will say against the book is the speed with which the book wraps up. It seems that Gemmell must have been writing to a word limit, and he realized he was getting close to it and thus finished the book as quickly as possible. The last fifth of the book disappears so quickly and improbably that it really took me out of the story and left me disappointed.
Gemmell, as I said, is one of those authors who is beloved by many. I assume thatís because of what is coming ahead of me, not because of this book.
Topher from USA
Pretty bad review by someone that comes of as a lit snob. Three things that happen in nearly every Gemmell book happen in this. 1. His amazing gift for characterization shines. Gemmell has the ability to make you feel as though you know a character deeply within a few pages, regardless of how archetypical the character is this is still a talent. 2. A few find themselves in a pivotal point in history and have to overcome past scars or weakness to overcome. 3. Very few writers can write combat like David Gemmell could. Beside being exciting his insights on the complexity of all things marital is wonderous.
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