Legend (Drenai Saga #1) ★★★☆½

legend (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Legend
Series: Drenai Saga #1
Author: David Gemmell
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 369
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.


My Thoughts:

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.



bookstooge (Custom)


36 thoughts on “Legend (Drenai Saga #1) ★★★☆½

  1. I’m glad to see you liked this. I’ve had it on my Kindle for over 2 years and intend to read it eventually, but I expect I’ll want to read the whole series. At around 4400 pages, it’s at that medium-sized length that I seem to have trouble fitting in. After I do the Feist series late this year, I’ve been thinking for future years I might do two medium series instead of one big one so I can knock out some of these medium series that I’m interested in but never seem to get to. I don’t know if I’ll choose this series or not for 2020, but it will be a contender.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve got however many there are in my rotation now, so if it starts to go downhill you’ll know 🙂

      That’s not a bad idea to try to knock out 2 medium series instead of 1 big one. Our reading styles being so different it is a bit hard for me to try to think what would/wouldn’t work from your perspective.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve heard of this guy…

    “Forgotten Realms with better writing” actually sounds decent. Though I dunno, these days I’m pretty tired of the same old D&D tropes fantasy flavor.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know I’ve heard of Gemmel since the 90’s, so he might have been around well before then, not sure. I’d have to look at the publishing dates.

      If the typical fantasy is getting stale for you, I’d be hesitant to try this. Let me explore, so to speak 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks.
      I always find it odd when an author starts at the end as his beginning. I don’t know if the rest of series comes AFTER this one or if we go back in time to see more of Druss. if the series goes back, well, there goes any tension!


  3. Glad you enjoyed Gemmell. I’ve only read a few of his books, but they are all great fantasy adventures with tons of fighting. And since he has such a huge catalog you have now assured yourself of hours of future reading. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Honestly don’t recall the explicit sex scenes in the first four Drenai books, but I totally understand your hesitation. Personally, I’m trying to avoid of stories with certain behavior these days, which is why you’ll probably notice me reading older stuff. The newer stories are too explicit and over-the-top in every regard. Plus most of them are just inferior in quality.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Makes me glad I’m not a younger person trying to navigate some of the stuff coming out. I’ve read enough to just avoid it and stick to the old stuff 😀
          Except for when I don’t, lol…

          Liked by 1 person

  4. This was my first Gemmel book and i loved it. If i am not mistaken he wrote two possible endings pending this novel, pending his results from the doctor(think he had cancer) when the results came with good news the fortress ended up surviving. Gemmel also went on writing as Legend was his first novel, i can respect a man for such an endevour. A note of cuation, His Skilganon series might put you of from gemel, read with cuation. Milou and i both did reviews on White Wolf. Have a look if you feel like it

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Huh, that is pretty interesting to know about the two possible endings.

      Right now, I just have his Drenai Saga series on my rotation, so I’ll check out if Skilganon is part of that or not. ..
      Ok, looks like he’s part of the series but only for the last 2. Appreciate the word of warning.

      I think your reviews of White Wolf was what pushed my thoughts of Gemmel from “maybe” to “add him to my rotation”. It only took 18 months, hahahaha

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Legend was my first Gemmell book as well, and I had to dig deep for the review, but it seems I gave it a similar rating 🙂 The ending is a weird one, agreed, but it’s like Dave wrote – a result of Gemmell’s cancer diagnosis 😉
    I also read his duology about Alexander the Great – Lion of Macedon and Dark Prince, and it was even better, I believe.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks.

          I rather doubt I’ll check out his historical duology. Not a fan at all of history books. And in reality, I’m even less a fan of “historical fiction”, as too many idiots can’t/won’t separate that whole “fiction” part of the equation and I don’t want to encourage such shenanigans…

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Oh, it’s not historical at all – he introduces all Greek mythological creatures into the mix, and sheds some doubt on the conception of Alexander himself 😉 Lots of Minotaurs, centaurs and stuff, and lots of sword-and-claw fighting 😉

            Liked by 1 person

    1. It can be done right but I know what you mean about it having a negative connotation. I think it has earned that by authors being lazy and it showing. If you look up the definition of “deus ex machina” it ends with the word contrived. I think THAT is where the negative part comes in, especially since it is almost always contrived instead of being something really clever.


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