Waylander II by David Gemmell
Waylander II – In the realm of the wolf is a novel belonging to the Drenai series written by David Gemmell. The book was first published in Great Britain in 1992 by Legend Books and has been reprinted by Orbit Books since 1997. The book is 323 pages in length and is the fifth Drenai novel.
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 the Slayer, one of the deadliest killers of all time.
The story is told in third person narrative and belongs to the heroic fantasy / sword & sorcery sub-genre.
Waylander II is a fast-paced, action-packed tale from David Gemmell, full of memorable characters and sparkling narrative. Although distinctly heroic in style the book still retains a feel of gritty realism that is Gemmell's trademark. Waylander is an anti-hero; the grieving and haunted husband who's past is full of guilt and pain. Readers of the Drenai series will find welcome familiarity with the Drenai, Ventrians, Gothirs, Nadir, Sathuli and Chiatze all playing a part in the history of this war-torn land.
Waylander is the pivotal figure of the book, a man not without faults and a history of deeds both good and evil. However, he is a man that we are able to understand. We have been told why he is how he is and we really do feel for him and are with him all that way through the book. The mountainside in Skeln, which is his home, is described beautifully and Gemmell makes sure that the reader knows from the very first chapter what is going on and what the story is.
The characters that support Waylander are Miriel, his daughter and a pretty, skilled and innocent warrior. Angel is a former gladiator and a survivor who stands by them. Senta is another arena gladiator who is paid to assassinate Waylander but eventually joins them.
New characters are introduced at a pleasing rate, there are never to many at one time and always enough to keep the story fresh. The individual threads of the story, featuring separate characters become interwoven as the characters meet and the result is a fast-paced story becoming even quicker and more intense. Humour is in scarce supply as this is a gritty story set in dark times but there are however amusing moments that help to momentarily lift the gloom.
David Gemmell writes to his strengths and this may at times lead to a similar theme to many of his books but more importantly this does lead to damn fire story from a master storyteller.
The theme that stands out most is futility; everything that is done and achieved has only a short-term effect. In the long-term these “achievements” may count for nothing. Set against this is the way in which our heroes still fight for what they believe in even though it may be meaningless.
I have been dead these last five years, he realised. A walking corpse, though I did not know it. He thought of Danyal, and found himself remembering the joys of their life without the sharp, jagged bitterness at her passing. The mountains loomed, grey and threatening. And the man rode on.
A slight weakness in Waylander II is when Gemmell really goes into full fantasy-mode. This is OK but it does not seem to be something that the author is completely comfortable with and it does not read as well as the other phases of the book. This is a small point that does not in anyway detract from the full enjoyment of the book.
Off all the paragraphs in the novel there was one that really stood out. The paragraph centred on the theme of death and is very poignant and meaningful to the story itself.
We are like the seasons – we grow in spring, mature in summer, fade in the autumn and die in the winter. But it is foolish to say, It is springtime but I will grow no flowers for they must fade. What is life without love?.
Waylander II is every bit as good as all of Gemmell's Drenai books and stronger than its prequel. A fast paced, action packed tale of heroic fantasy.
This Waylander II book review was written by Floresiensis
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