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Series: Drenai Saga #1
Author: David Gemmell
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Format: Digital Edition
The horse tribes have united under one leader, a charismatic man who is brutal, bloodthirsty and visionary. He has kept the peace with the Drenai Empire for the last number of years with treaties. Now the time has come for him to ignore those treaties and engulf the Drenai. The first step is taking over the gateway fortress.
Druss the Legend is now an old man. Throughout his life he has been in many battles and earned that title of Legend. He has been called to the fortress to defend against the horde. What he finds is a corrupt series of officers, a demoralized, understaffed army and a citizenry already talking of surrender. Druss is a warrior though, not a leader. He can inspire and kill, but he can’t really lead. The Duke of the fortress is a good friend of Druss, but he’s riddled with cancer and dies just a few days after Druss arrives.
Thankfully, the Duke was a good man and knew his time was near. He sent out his daughter to hire the 30, a group of ascetic monks with temporal powers that translated into physical powers. They are also master strategists. Between them and Druss, the Duke hopes to give his city a fighting chance. The daughter runs into a warrior and ends up marrying him. He becomes the next Duke even though he hates fighting.
The city has 7 walls and everyone fights until the last wall. With a million warriors, it would appear that the warlord is assured victory. However, he gets a missive that his nephew has revolted back home and is trying to usurp him. He leaves and the couple of hundred survivors among the Drenai get to live. Druss has fallen in battle, the 30 have fallen, except for one who will start the next 30 and the Duke and his wife magically survive.
This was decent epic fantasy. It would seem to be the end of the Drenai Empire, so either the next set of books go back in time or there is a resurgence. My guess is going back in time to see how Druss became the Legend that he is here.
The city/fortress reminded me of Tolkien’s Minas Tirith, what with its sets of walls. Also, the whole tone of the book was Forgotten Realms, just with better writing and plotting.
The magical deus ex machina at the end concerning the Duke and his wife was a bit tough to accept but when you want a happy ending, that’s pretty much your only option. That, or they both survive the entire battle, which I would find even more unbelievable.
I’ve avoided Gemmel for decades because the descriptions just never drew me in. Now that I’ve actually read one his books, I expect I’ll be searching out all his stuff and reading it. It is very enjoyable and exactly what I am looking for in a fantasy. Good triumphs, Evil is conquered and lots and lots of fighting. The battles on the walls were great.