Stormrider: (The Rigante Book 4) Paperback – 1 Apr 2003
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In Stormrider David Gemmell yet again demonstrates the passion for storytelling and the heroic which makes his best books so very much better than his sometimes clunky individual sentences might indicate.
Driven back to the barren hills of their homeland, the Rigante clansmen whose ancient ways have dominated Gemmell's series named for them are the natural world's last resource against crusaders, whose corrupt magic would destroy everything. Yet the crucial hero of the struggle is not the Rigante chieftain Kaelin, but Gaise, the dashing cavalryman son of the Rigante's worst enemy, the Moidart.
Gemmell is fascinated by what makes good men do evil--Gaise becomes hideously ruthless in his pursuit of a righteous war--and also by what makes evil men do good; faced with an ultimate evil that regards him as a personal enemy, the Moidart is forced not only onto the side of Good, but also to an understanding of what he really wants.
Gemmell is fond of the brutal and of the sentimental, but there is an underlying integrity to his work that comes from a real belief in the importance of what he is saying; his work is sometimes ponderous and pretentious, but never trivial. --Roz Kaveney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"'Gemmell is a fireside mythmonger; his characters and plots have the authentic feel of legends handed down through the ages'" (SFX)See all Product description
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If you're a fan of David's writing then further analysis is unecessary. If you're a naysayer, then this book will offer no new element to change your opinion of the grand old man of english fantasy.
Set in the days of pistols and muskets fans of TV series Sharpe will recognise the change in the pitch of battle compared to Gemmell's previous hack and slash battles.
The book revives a darker side to Gemmels heroes who while being men of principle and honour are capable of darker deeds than the blackest villain.
While the last book focused on Kaelin Ring and his indominatble uncle Jaim Grymach this story focuses on the Storm rider Gaise Macon, son of the evil Moidart. Gemmell twists and turns his charecters with rare skill making the evil Moidart a hero and the Valiant Gaise an atrocious killer.
Stormrider while typical Gemmel fare is an amazingly well thought out and thought provoking book, the points he makes on good and evil, on heroes and cowards are intuitive and inspiring.
A brilliant book and a brilliant read, I picked this up and didn't stop reading it until I was finished.
If you have read the previous books you have to read this one. It answers many questions and completes so much of the story. As always in this type of novel, justice is mostly satisfied.
It is also clear that Gemmell intends the book to stand on it's own and there are cleverly woven histories to help a new reader up to speed. I think this is perhaps the only weakness in the novel as it can be frustrating for someone who has read the previous books but not detailed enough to allow for no prior knowledge.
Overall, read this book - you won't be able to put it down.
Much of the first half of the book concentrates on relationships and conflicts, and this is where the book is at its best. Gemmell was a master of characterisation, and had a marvellously subtle way of filling in backstory without resorting to page after page of exposition. He does that here with aplomb, and also introduces some new characters, such as the Cochland brothers, who bring a welcome bit of levity to proceedings.
However, in the latter stages of the book (and this is a long book by Gemmell's standards, at 600 pages), as the war commences, he seems to lose his way a little. There is very little in the way of the emotional punch that he usually weaved throughout his stories, and certainly nothing to match the ending of the previous book. In fact, I'm not sure I liked the ending of Stormrider, as it seems to rely on a somewhat deus ex machina conclusion which doesn't sit well with the rest of the tale, and certainly doesn't reflect the path the previous three books have taken to get here. Yes, fate has always been at the heart of them, but this ending seemed to me to be just a little bit too convenient, despite the tagged on epilogue. Even the last line of the novel is nowhere near his usual quality. Whereas his books usually leave me with a lump in my throat, or my jaw on the floor, this one did neither.
Perhaps this was down to a desire to bring a conclusion to the series within this fourth book, and there was a need to tie up all loose ends (bar one, which left me fairly annoyed). Yet, despite my misgivings about the ending, it is still an immensely enjoyable read, streets ahead of most other fantasy. It's just that the three previous books in the series are so good, this one feel a bit of a let down. Shame!
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