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Legend by David Gemmell
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1,522314,842 (4.02)52
  1. 20
    The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (infiniteletters)
  2. 00
    Sword in the Storm by David Gemmell (Kaczencja)
  3. 00
    Vengeance by Fabrice Colin (corporate_clone)
    corporate_clone: Considérée comme une oeuvre mineure de Colin, Vengeance est pourtant un roman remarquable pour amateurs d'heroic fantasy brutale et masculine. Un très bon choix pour les fans de l'univers de Drenai.
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English (26)  French (5)  All languages (31)
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Firstly, to be clear, Legend isn’t the finest set of words ever committed to paper. In some ways David Gemmell’s writing is rather unsophisticated and technically flawed (in some places its actually rather raw) but this doesn’t matter. Taken as a whole Legend is perhaps it’s one of the most entertaining books I’ve ever read. Why? Well, a number of reasons:

1. The depth of characterization surprised me. Gemmell’s writing style is crisp and succinct and he retains an ability to get you to really care about the characters. For example, even the antagonist Ulric, leader of the Nadir, is presented as a multidimensional person, to the point where you actually feel he is a reasonable and rounded person: not just a cackling villain who rubs his hands together and then twirls his moustache.

2. Druss the greatest hero of the Drenai. At the start of the book it is clear that Druss is in his sixties and much weaker than his prime but still a formidable warrior and an inspirational leader to the Drenai. His death is foretold; he is to die defending his people one last time at Delnoch or he has the option to prolong his life by lapsing slowly into senility. He chooses the former. This immediately draws you to this man and gives you an insight why he is called Legend.

3. Unlike most novels I’ve read, the premise here is the apparently a useless and futile quest. The efforts of the defenders are pitiful against the unstoppable and infinite surge of the invaders. The characters are going to fight and almost certainly die; the odds they face are too overwhelming to overcome and yet they choose to fight anyway. Isn’t this what makes true heroes? Living and dying for a cause you believe in, even though the outcome may be hopeless for you personally? This raises the question in the readers mind: just how do I want to be remembered and am I leading a worthy life?

4. The parts of the book where Druss trains and leads the men provides an inspiring analysis on what I means to be a man. Several times the point of view switches. The worries, concerns and anxieties are articulated but these are offset by the individual and collective acts of integrity, respect and dignity.

5. Gemmell doesn’t use the usual fantastic plot devices: magic, dragons, etc, which is refreshing. He does however leave the extremely well written and exciting battle /fight scenes (of which there are many) intact.

So in summary, it’s not how Gemmell writes that’s ultimately important it's what he writes. Highly recommended, even if you’re first choice of book isn’t heroic fantasy.

Quotes from the Book
Here are list of some of the quotes I liked from Legend:

By nature of definition only the coward is capable of the highest heroism.
Ch. 4

Live or die, a man and a woman need love. There is a need in the race. We need to share. To belong. Perhaps you will die before the year is out. But remember this: to have may be taken from you, to have had never. it is far better to have tasted love before dying than to die alone.
Ch. 6

[A]ll men die. ... A man needs many things in his life to make it bearable. A good woman. Sons and daughters. Comradeship. Warmth. Food and shelter. but above all these things, he needs to be able to know that he is a man. And what is a man? He is someone who rises when life has knocked him down. Someone who raises his fist to heaven when a storm has ruined his crop — and then plants again. And again. A man remains unbroken by the savage twists of fate. That man may never win. But when he sees himself reflected, he can be proud of what he sees. For low he may be in the scheme of things: peasant, serf, or dispossessed. But he is unconquerable. And what is death? an end to trouble. An end to strife and fear. ... Bear this in mind when you decide your future.
Ch. 7

We are not made for life at all, old horse. It is made for us. We live it. We leave it.
Ch. 9

No one can take away the freedom of a man's soul.
Ch. 9

Liberty is only valued when it is threatened, therefore it is the threat that highlights the value. We should be grateful to the Nadir, since they heighten the value of our liberty.
Ch. 9

A man must know his limitations.
Ch. 10

None of us can choose the manner of our passing.
Ch. 10

Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone fails at something.
Ch. 10

This world has few redeeming features, and one is the capacity for people to love one another with great, enduring passion.
Ch. 12

You may think life is sweet now, but when death is a heartbeat away then life becomes unbearably desirable. And when you survive, everything you do will be enhanced and filled with greater joy: the sunlight, the breeze, a good wine, a woman's lips, a child's laughter.
Ch. 18

Man alone, it seems, lives all his life in the knowledge of death. And yet there is more to life than merely waiting for death. For life to have meaning, there must be a purpose. A man must pass something on — otherwise he is useless.
Ch. 29 ( )
  Rob.Thompson | Nov 22, 2014 |
This book is brilliant. It is one of my top 5 fantasy books.

I was introduced to it when my brothers best friend, a fabulous story teller, retold the story to me on a long car ride. He got me hooked.

I think listening to a 16yo soon-to-join-the-army bloke tell the story showed me what it is about.

It is about the fantasy of being that Druss. Reading the book is about getting into a teenage boys head space. To be that strong and calm and down right legendary. To be that awesome. This book is about the desire to be the hero, this hero.

This was one of my first Gemmell books. It has a lot of typical elements, the most annoying is his habit of writing himself into an impossible situation and using something ridiculously concocted to fix everything and create a happy ending. I recall one of his books was an epic battle between men and immortals with the men heroically all about to die... When the immortals all decided to become friends again, and that was it all over. Lol... It is so habitually it kind of becomes an enjoyable aspect of reading Gemmell. ( )
  alsocass | Oct 12, 2013 |
*Warning: small spoilers herein*

This book has been on my “to be read” pile for a very long time. I read it mostly to do a vampire cleanse. And, because it was the *only* book on my TBR pile that garnered ONLY positive reviews from my friends. Also, because in my digital sample, Rek fascinated me.

To me, this was a sad, sad book. Not because it was depressing and many people died – Hey, its war, people die. But, rather because there was no villain. No bad guy. No sum of all evil. There was the side about which we read and the side that was attacking them. The warchief for the opposing side, to all intents and purposes, was a decent guy, a good warchief and was just expanding his territory. No different from Hannibal or Alexander. He was no Hitler. He treated his people well – or at least as well as could be expected, and respected his opponents. Therefore, there was no glee, no joy, no real celebration when the war finally stopped – there was just . . . relief. Relief that the deaths on *both* sides (at least for this confrontation) were over.

One thing really bothered me. It was a very small thing. But it nagged at my subconscious. At one point, before Rek, Virae and the thirty arrived at Dros Delnoch, the thirty discovered that traitors had poisoned a well. They were shown not to be able to reach our heroes in order to warn them. We had one paragraph where someone drank out of this well and died. That was it. No big AHA! moment where our reluctant heroes determined that OH NO! the traitors have poisoned our well. No masses of people dying. Just one little very brief paragraph. Seemed to me it should have been bigger than that. See, told ya, it was a very small thing. Sometimes that is all it takes in a story to leave that little niggly hmmmm in the back of your mind.

While I *did* actually love the ending, I think the best part of the entire story is the overwhelming theme (OMG my English teacher mother would be so *proud* of me for recognizing an overwhelming theme . . .) that one man *can* make a difference. Whether that man be Druss or Rek or Serbitar or Orrin or Gilad or Bregan or even, yes, Ulric. These men all did what they felt was right, regardless of the consequences to themselves. They defended all that they loved to the best of their abilities, no matter how big or how small those abilities might be. Most of these guys were not born into greatness, they earned it – not by being the best there was or ever would be, but simply by being the best *they* could be. This, in itself, led others to also strive for ‘bestness.’

It is stories such as this that give me strength and confidence to press forward in the face of adversity, no matter how big or how small. For that reason, I give this one 4 stars.
( )
  SnowNSew | Oct 2, 2013 |
It's been a while since I read this book, but I remember the writing was awful and totally devoid of subtlety. There was one woman character that I can remember, and obviously her problem was that she hadn't found a good man to put her to right.

I couldn't get what the fuss was all about. Maybe it will appeal more to men. Especially if you're a nostalgic of the John Wayne era. ;-)

1.5 stars because I did finish the book after all, meaning it wasn't totally and completely awful, though if there was something I liked about it, I can't remember it now. ( )
  FlorenceArt | Sep 10, 2013 |
Where do I even begin? I just don't get it. I don't get the praise for this book, I don't get the four and five star ratings... I just don't get it.

It's just so stuffed with awful, it's overflowing. It's lucky to be getting two stars from me.. If not for a few (very few) redeeming sections that I actually enjoyed, it wouldn't even pull that. But I mean honestly. Really? Really really?

I don't even know where to start. I mean Rek.. He was just so inconsistent. He's described one way when we meet him, but his actions never fit that description, and just get further and further from it as the story progresses. Not in a character development type way.. Just in a what the fuck kind of way. Druss.. Whatever, he was ok I guess, but nothing special. All of the characters in general were just ok. I did like Orrin, but that's about it.

The dialogue.. Oh my good God the dialogue. It's so horrible and awkward and unrealistic, it physically hurt me to read it. The relationships and bonds formed between characters felt totally contrived. It was just bad. So so bad.

The romance.. So fucking weird. Anyone who has read this knows the relationship I'm talking about. It was just... Creepy to me. Like tie-a-chick-up-in-a-closet-and-cut-off-all-of-her-fingers-and-feed-them-to-her-one-by-one creepy. And don't even get me started on how the women in this book are treated! In one scene, a husband straight up punches his wife in the face during a disagreement. She asks him later if he's going to apologize, and he's basically like "bitch, please..." and kisses her to make it all better. And that's ok with her. Later a woman is sternly told to "OBEY YOUR HUSBAND, WOMAN!" and she meekly does. It's just.. It's like Gemmell never met an actual woman. And before you say anything.. I get it. It's fantasy. It's an alternate world, maybe that's just the culture, right? But it didn't feel like that. It just felt.. Wrong.

I had been warned though, about the dialogue issues and the women issues. But I was assured that Gemmell was the master of Sword and Sorcery type fantasy, and that his battles more than made up for it. So I waited.. Battle time came.. It was fine I guess, but nothing spectacular. I guess maybe when it's written beside that horrible dialogue, you're just glad they're done talking, so it becomes better in comparison? I don't know. I honestly don't. For me, just fine wasn't nearly enough to make up for all of the crap.

I could go on.. But it's pointless. Obviously I just don't get it. I really wanted to like this, I wanted to love it in fact. But I couldn't. Even trying my hardest, I couldn't. I probably will read another book in this series, just to see if maybe it will hook me. I do really want to like it.. And I understand that this was Gemmell's first book.. Maybe it gets better. Maybe I'll read another, get hooked, and then my opinion on this will improve. It wouldn't be the first time! But for now.. Two stars. Barely. ( )
2 vote breakofdawn | Jun 11, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Gemmellprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Harrison, MarkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Máyer Júliasecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Picacio, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Warner, BobCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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This book is dedicated with love to three very special people. My father, Bill Woodford, without whom Druss the Legend would never have stood on the wall of Dros Delnoch. My mother, Olive, who instilled in me a love of stories in which heroes never lied, evil rarely triumphed, and love was always true.

And my wife, Valerie, who showed me that life can be like stories.
First words
The Drenai herald waited nervously outside the great doors of the throne room, flanked by two Nadir guards who stared ahead, slanted eyes fixed on the bronze eagle emblazoned on the dark wood.
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Book was published as "Legend" and as "Against the Horde" - please don't separate
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0345379063, Mass Market Paperback)

Druss, Captain of the Axe, was the stuff of legends. But even as the stories grew in the telling, Druss himself grew older. He turned his back on his own legend and retreated to a mountain lair to await his old enemy, death. Meanwhile, barbarian hordes were on the march. Nothing could stand in their way. Druss reluctantly agreed to come out of retirement. But could even Druss live up to his own legends?

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:55:23 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Druss, an old man, and Rek, a top swordsman, band together with the citizens of Dros Delnoch to defend the city against the thousands of invaders of Nadir

» see all 3 descriptions

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