on 18 April 2003
For David Gemmell addicts – finally, a new book! White Wolf introduces a new character to the Drenai series named Skilgannon. Throughout the novel, Gemmell uses the quest for atonement to really create character. Skilgannon was a general for the Witch Queen (whom he loves) but left her service after his wife died (who loved him) and Jianna (the Witch Queen) ordered him to slaughter the inhabitants of a city, earning him the title the Damned. Basically, after failing as a monk he goes looking for a special temple to resurrect his wife. On his way he ends up with Druss the Legend (naturally) who is looking for a friend of his who has disappeared. I don’t want to ruin the rest of the story so you will have to find out the rest on your own. Gemmell has a brilliant writing style, making reading his books terribly addictive. White Wolf is a book charged with excitement and humour – definitely a good read!
on 12 April 2003
This book is yet another example of the brilliance that is David Gemmell. All characters well fleshed out, and a special old friend thrown in to round it off. Skilgannon, the main character, was a great man to be introduced to in this first book of the series. Of course though, my heart soared when Druss put in his appearance. Mr Gemmell has exceptional talent in that he can create his characters, their backgrounds, and their adventures so well that it makes reading these books feel like you are going home after a very long time away. Characters, such as the troubled Skilgannon,that are introduced are not strangers for long, and to meet up with old characters again is like meeting up with well loved old friends.
Skilgannon is a man troubled by his past but, realising he can do nothing to change it, is coming to terms with it, and is now beginning a journey to try and restore an important person to his life. Not an easy task when all he has to go on is rumour and myth. Druss is on the road to find a friend, and finds his friend is very much changed. The story that unfolds around these two people is as to be expected from it's creator. The characters are not empty two-dimensional incidentals wandering around in a book. These are virtually real people whom all David Gemmell fans would be honoured to meet, and will surely enjoy adventuring with in this latest novel.
So, Mr David Gemmell, I raise my glass of Lentrian Red to you and sit back to read White Wolf again.
on 13 August 2008
Brother Lantern is a priest seeking inner peace in an increasingly hostile and unsettled world. Conflict surrounds the priesthood, and now the priests themselves are being targeted by forces intent on causing chaos. As the priests come face to face with violence, Brother Lantern's adherence to their peaceful ways is severely tested as more priests get attacked and all he is meant to do is forgive the attackers and try and find good in them. Then when a violent mob come to the gates of the priest's monastery, Brother Lantern decides he can no longer follow the path of the priesthood, and reluctantly reverts back to his warrior ways, ruthlessly teaching the mob a lesson they'll never forget. For Brother Lantern is no ordinary priest, he is Skilgannon the Damned, mighty warrior, wielder of the swords of night and day, and a tormented soul haunted by the guilt of horrific acts of barbarism that he committed in the name of the Witch Queen.
This is another thrilling book from David Gemmell, full of wonderful characterisation whereby every character has something to contribute to this compelling story. Skilgannon is the tortured soul, deeply ashamed of the acts he has committed in the name of war, desperately seeking some kind redemption for his past, but knowing deep down than nothing can undo what he has done. Nonetheless you can't help hoping that Skilgannon finds some kind of salvation as you realise that he's very much been used as a pawn by the Witch Queen, driven by his loyalty and, even more, his intense love for her, as they were former lovers before she rose to power.
Once Skilgannon makes the decision to give up the priesthood and return to his warrior ways he embarks on an eventful and action-packed quest that brings him into conflict with all kinds of weird and wonderful adversaries, some human, some not human. He also gets to meet some very interesting characters who, for reasons of their own, join up with him, even though they are all aware of his shameful past, some befriending him, others merely tolerating him. One of the characters he meets up with is the awesome Druss The Legend, who makes for a fantastic partner to Skilgannon, giving a refreshingly simplistic and black and white view of the world that counter-acts Skilgannon's deep and complex view of life. Both Druss and Skilgannon have the same fearlessness and air of invincibility about them, Skilgannon the highly skilled swordsman, Druss the powerhouse axeman.
As the story progresses Skilgannon and Druss build up a bizarre mutual respect and friendship, they're hugely contrasting characters, yet strangely complementary. And having two formidable warriors like this join forces gives Gemmell the opportunity to have some truly amazing fight scenes. Most Gemmell fans love his talent for describing a battle, and they certainly won't be disappointed here, with every axe swing and sword thrust being described in vivid and exhilarating detail. There's never a dull moment in this hugely exciting and captivating read, it's another classic from Gemmell.
on 1 April 2003
Skilgannon the Damned had vanished from the pages of history. No-one knew where he had gone, and the assassins sent by the Witch Queen could find no trace of his passing.
Three years later, as a mob intent on murder gathers outside a distant monastery, they are faced by a single unarmed priest. In a few terrifying seconds their world is changed for ever, and word spreads across the lands of the East..... Skilgannon is back.
Now he must travel across a perilous, demon-haunted realm seeking a mysterious temple and the ageless goddess who rules it. With assassins on his trail and an army of murderous foes ahead, the Damned sets off on a quest to bring the dead to life. But he does not travel alone.... The man beside him is Druss the Legend.
In a world torn by war, White Wolf is a page turning tale of love, betrayal and treachery, which examines the nature of heroism and friendship and the narrow line that divides good from evil, redemption from damnation.
This novel has everything a fan of heroic fantasy could desire :-)
on 15 April 2003
in this the first book of the Damned David Gemmell gives us one of his finest creations in Skilgannon "the damned" A general famous for destroying an intire city , men women and children, has left his command in search of inner peace. HAVE I MENTIONED THAT THIS IS ALSO A DRUSS THE LEGEND STORY!!! Aye Druss is back Laddie, and is as fantastic as ever. the battles in this book are not main focus , but the development and relationships of the character are, and trust me it will blow you away. Tons of references to other Drenai Stories including a certain grey gentleman with a double bolted crossbow!
The best part by far of this tale is the amazing ending - I almost fell off my chair reading it. leaves you feeling so elated ,you'll read it again twice to make sure that the twist in the ending was what you think it is . Buy this today you will not be dissappointed.
on 6 July 2006
I thought this is one of David Gemmells best novels. The main character is Skillgannon the Damned, a character that really captured my imagination.
Not only is it great heroic fantasy, but funny in parts. It also includes Druss the Legend, probably Gemmells best known character, and it is set ten years before 'Legend', Gemmell's first novel.
A very good read.
Readers of previous Drenai tales will love this entry, for it takes characters and history from each novel and creates an "best-of" story. It features a party like no other, each member drawing on strands from previous novels, even though this is a standalone entry in to the Drenai mythos (another Damned novel follows). At first the introduction of Druss to the party feels like a cash-cow approach, but Gemmell utilised Druss to draw out the complexity of his new character, Skilgannon, a renegade soldier who wishes to turn his back on the past, yet is emotionally tied to it. It's a complex, and initially wordy story, with fleshed out characters and plot twists and events that create a real page-turner. Enjoyable until the end, White Wolf is a quality fantasy read.
on 21 March 2007
Both Skilagon and Druss show how real heroes are supposed to fight. Druss's Axe cleaves though many men as do Skilagon's swords. The story line has lots of twists and new problems that arrive. As always he brings you and keeps you into an interesting and exciteing story line where you want to read so fast you'd almost rip the pages out when turning them.
Even back tracking and talking about Skilagon's past when he was just the child of a hero known as Fire Fist. In no way is this boreing however. It explains in detail of his life and even tells of his meeting with the current queen of the land he came from and the horrific things he witnessed when he became recognised as a traitor.
on 3 June 2006
Yes, Druss is back!. The book as a whole is good but does stick very much to the classic Gemmell formula. Not that there is anything wrong with that. The book is well and solidly written but nothing spectacular. Anyone who is a Gemmell fan will find this an enjoyable read.
on 12 April 2003
Gemmell's Drenai novels are always eagerly anticipated and tales starring Druss the Legend even more so. It's like Bob Hope entertaining the troops - you love him for who he is, even if his jokes have worn a little thin over the years.
"Who is Skilgannon?" was the question I was asking. Who could share equal billing with Druss? Skilgannon the Damned (that's Mr. The Damned to you) is instantly one of Gemmell's classic characters - a mass of confusions and adolescent guilt mixed with an enormous capacity for cutting edge ferocity. Temper this with Druss's indomitable code and big axe, leave in the oven for 20 mins, gas mark 4, and the result is a Drenai quest pie with all the trimmings.
Gemmell employs a flashback narrative through a large portion of this book, as Skillgannon's inner monologue talks us through incidents in his past that made him into the man he is. I have to admit to feeling that this was a heavy handed attempt to give the character a well rounded back story and bring depth to an anti hero who would otherwise be indistinguishable from a legion of his other creations such as Dace or Tenaka Khan. As it stands this groundwork will probably only be appreciated on a second reading.
What was so thrilling about this Gemmell novel above all others is the anticipation of bringing together two such obviously powerful heroes and unleashing them upon his world (which is mapped for the first time incidentally). It's like Batman and Superman all over again, except with less lycra.
Druss is a revelation as ever and I felt that this was far and away the most vibrant portrait of his most famous bearded protagonist. In the same way Jack Nicholson burned up the screen in Batman, Druss lights up the page so strongly the other characters suffer a little in comparison at times.
If there is a little weakness in the plot (disparate group comes together under the shadow of war, form troop, set out to perform various laudable but confusing acts of humanity coupled with extreme medieval violence) the set pieces are among the best he's done. The Joining attacks; Skilgannon vs the assassins; the climatic ending - there's plenty to get the heart racing and the chapters simply fly by. By the time you have reached the end it seems to arrive too quickly as the journey was so exhilarating.
As this seems to be the first in a new series of books, it would be churlish to expect a clear cut beginning, middle and an end. There's room for much more from the final chapter disclosures alone. Instead the book leaves you hungry for more adventures of the Damned. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book, even with two demonically possessed swords at my throat.