Gemmell does it again. Readers of his books over the years will have seen the changes and developments in Gemmell's writing ability. Earlier novels (Legend...) were in parts, for want of a better description, corny. However, these novels began to progress and we were given legendary characters such as Waylander the Slayer (or Dakyeras......can't be too sure on the spelling of that......! ), Druss the Legend, Tenaka Khan, Chareos the Blade Master, Culain Larch Feragh, Tarantio & Dace, Talaban, John Shannow, Bane and Parmenion. With each new book that Gemmell has written, his characters have developed and become more and more believable. Raw emotions - love, hate, uncertanty, lust, rage, greed, honour, betrayal, kindness, courage. His characters have a realistic amount of each. He deals with the gritty reality of fantasy (a stark parody! ). He has not got glorious fighters with dragons and wzards. He has got moody characters, struggling with the weight of responsibility, never sleeping or eating (sounds like Karis the Ice Queen! ). Bloody, ferocious battles where whole chapters are painted with crimson expertise. I challenge ANYONE to read a Gemmell book and not love it!
In Sword in the Storm, the first book in the Rigante Series, we see Connoavar start his life and career under the watchful eye of his mentor - Ruathain. This book has shades of other classic titles from Gemmell, namely the older ones like Legend, and Waylander. Also the Stone armies are like late Romans (similar to the outlanders in Ironhand's daughter) and the Rigante are like celts or Highland clans of Scotland. Connavar is s fairly well rounded character that does his best to survive and bring freedom to the clans from the empire of Stone. However, the book lacks multi layer plot twists and also the story is one we have all heard before. That being a gross and corrupted empire trying to take over the world and destroy all in it's path while a handful of defenders do their best to survive. Sound familiar - like Legend, like Legend of Deathwalker, like King Beyond the Gate? For someone who has read all of Gemmell's books, this becomes too much of the same formula. Once again there is a saviour, someone who is a master tactition, someone who men flock to. Again, very familiar. This title does not stand up to the scrutiny of readers that like to tear a book to peices, but it does give a very enjoyable read for people that like heroic fantasy. And herein is a message - if you read to enjoy and not make criticism, you will love Gemmell. If you read and are thinking "this should be better, that is not as good as..." and so on, then you are defeating the whole idea of reading a Gemmell title.
I read this and loved it. I thought it was a good story, even if aspects of it were similar to others. The characters were developed and realistic - which is the key to all good characters. Gemmell always deals with basic human emotions with a skill I have rarely read. His books can bring tears to your eyes, make you laugh, make you smile but most of all give you an insight into the person you are. You read a Gemmell novel and you knmow that if you saw someone who needed help, you would be like Druss and stride on in there and lend a helping hand. Well, I would anyway. And no doubt many others would too.
So, yet another enjoyable read. Fans, you know what is coming but you also know you love every minute of it! If you are new to Gemmell, I recommend that you read this and all other Gemmell novels.
As a big fan I am looking forward to reading Hero in the shadows. This is my FIRST EVER review of anything so, please, do not judge it too harshly.