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Knights of Dark Renown by David Gemmell

Knights of Dark Renown (original 1989; edition 1993)

by David Gemmell (Author)

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527728,490 (3.79)5
Title:Knights of Dark Renown
Authors:David Gemmell (Author)
Info:Del Rey (1993), 320 pages
Collections:Your library

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Knights of Dark Renown by David Gemmell (1989)

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    Waylander by David Gemmell (Sandwich76)
    Sandwich76: My first David Gemmell book and my favourite

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Knights of Dark Renown - David Gemmell ****

This is one of those books that has Gemmell doing what he does best, a fantasy novel set in a different yet similar world to our own, one we can can recognise from history but with enough magic and mayhem to transport us into a whole new experience. Much of the plot is mingled with our own Arthurian legends and myths, but Knights of Dark Renown is as much a coming of age novel as heroic fantasy. We follow a young boy named Lug who possesses a number of strong powers, but he does not yet know how to control them or even their extent. One night he witnesses the Knights of the Gabala passing through a magic portal in order to protect the kingdom. The Knights never returned from this fateful mission, but one remained behind. Now branded a coward he travels the lands looking for redemption. Couple these two pathways with that of the wizard Maerlyn, who is able to breath life into his almost robotic creations, and you have an action packed 400 pages.

A new evil appears, with mass genocide of all citizens of nomadic descent taking place. Can the King be defeated and what part will Lug play? What happened to the missing Knights and how will their destiny play a part? We meet numerous colourful characters from wizards to warriors, and something I love about Gemmell is that we never really know who is next to get bumped off. He certainly doesn't get attached to his creations.

A really brilliant stand alone book from Gemmell, and one that I can easily recommend. I was tempted to award 5 stars, and although it came close I just thought there was something a little missing. ( )
  Bridgey | Jul 3, 2015 |
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

It's been six years since the legendary Knights of the Gabala rode through a gate to hell in order to fight the evil that threatened the realm. They haven't been heard from since. But they are desperately needed now because the King, once a noble man, has begun rounding up the nomad population in Holocaust style. People who oppose his actions are named traitors and the King's new henchmen are very strong and very .... undead. The king's new policies have alienated a lot of people — mostly peasants. Can they band together and defeat this evil? Are there men and women who will rise up and lead this motley group?

Knights of Dark Renown is a deep and engaging multi-layered heroic fantasy. Not one of those that's got a cover sporting a big muscle-man with a sword in one hand and a buxom bikini-clad babe in the other. Gemmell's characters are not stereotyped heroes and villains; They're complex and three-dimensional. Some of his heroes — both men and women — are so flawed that they don't see themselves as noble at all (and even the reader isn't sure that they really are). In David Gemmell's world, all men (and women) have the potential to be both heroes and villains — even at the same moment in time.

Gemmell covers a lot of psychological ground in Knights of Dark Renown. There are themes of love and betrayal, guilt and forgiveness, consequences of behavior, atonement and redemption, courage and cowardice. I was listening on audiobook and found myself often having to pause the recording so I could think for a while.

This book is dark and many of the so-called heroes end up dead. But even through all of the darkness, pain, and death, there are many uplifting “heroic” moments, such as when the coward does a courageous deed (and, as Gemmell said in an interview, only a coward can truly be courageous), or when the man who had done wrong all his life decides to end well.

I heard Gemmell speak of a fan who told him of a heroic deed he had done after reading one of Gemmell's books, and I believe it. Though Gemmell shows us that good people can do evil things, he give us hope by showing us that we are capable also of great deeds — even if we've never done one before. It's this sort of inspiration that separates David Gemmell's fantasy from that of some of the writers in this genre who, striving to be different, give us darkness and leave us there. There's plenty of darkness in David Gemmell's work but, thankfully, he doesn't leave us wallowing in it.
Read more David Gemmell book reviews at Fantasy Literature . ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
I disagree with the user that this is not one of Gemmell's greatest book. While is not my favourite book of him, it is probably my second-favourite of this author. This story has incredible power and is one of the greatest books I ever read (even if I still like "Echoes of the Great Song" by the same author even better). The epilogue actually is a part of the "magic" which lets the story feel "more real". I don't care that he reused mythology character names. Not the only time he did something like that (see Troy Trilogy, which also is one of his greatest books). Anywaysm what I think makes this story really powerful is that it has believable, "human"-showed heroes, with all their weaknesses and strengths. The personalities of these heroes feel real. It is not the typical "standard fantasy heroes". ( )
  MagicSN | Dec 22, 2013 |
It's always nice to read a one-shot fantasy: they can seem crowded with the need to build up a world and characters and a self-contained plotline, and this one certainly does, but it's refreshing to come across something fairly self-contained in this world of fantasy trilogies. It's a pageturner -- which I'm beginning to see is characteristic of Gemmell's work -- and though it has it's flaws, it's a lot of fun as well.

The main flaws are the sheer number of characters and the pacing, which starts slowly and then hurtles to the end at break-neck speed. If it had been a little longer, or some characters had been trimmed out, then it would have been very emotionally effective in those last eighty pages. As it was, I could feel for the characters... but not that much. I think which you find most effective will depend on your own character: I was drawn to Nuada, Morrigan and Samildanach more than the other characters (at least in the last part of the book).

I wish Gemmell hadn't tacked on that epilogue. It feels more like a synopsis of another book which he could see in his mind but couldn't be bothered getting round to writing.

The other weird thing is the raiding of mythology for character names. I recognise a lot of them from other fantasies and from Welsh and Irish mythology, but I'm not quite sure why Gemmell used them, as they seem to bear little relation to their sources. That distracted me a lot, waiting for it to make sense when it just... doesn't. ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
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David Gemmellprimary authorall editionscalculated
Posen, MikeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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True friends are rare, but without them life would lack all quality.

Knights of Dark renown is dedicated with love to Val and Mike Adams, good neighbours, good friends. And also to Ivan Kellham, Sue Blackman, and the staff at Village Video, Hastings, who put with a quirky author serving behind the counter whenever he feels the need to run away from his word processor.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 034537908X, Mass Market Paperback)

Once the legendary knights of the Gabala defended the nine duchies. Their hearts were beautiful; their armor was beyond compare. They were greater than princes, more than men.
But they were gone, disappeared through a demon-haunted gateway between worlds. Only one held back -- Manannan, whose every instinct told him to stay. Now he was the coward knight, and in torment.
Murder and black magic beset the land. Rumors circulated that the king was enchanted, changed, that his soul was dead . . . and that a reign of terror was about to begin.
Now Manannan realized he would have to face his darkest fears: he had no choice but to ride through that dreaded gate and seek out his vanished companions.
And the secret he would learn there would tear his soul apart . . . .
"A sharp, distinctive medieval fantasy. Dramatic, colorful, taut." -- Locus

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:26 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

The land of the Drenai has seldom seen a blacker time. Six years ago, the Knights of the Gabala, legendary defenders of truth and right, went on a quest to combat evil. They never returned. In their absence, the king has become a tyrant backed by his new champions, the Red Knights, who are invincible physically, mentally, and magically. No heroes remain to champion the cause of the people. The sensible thing to do is leave Drenai behind forever. However, against impossible odds, some choose to stand and fight.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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