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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars

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on 14 May 2017
loved it
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on 16 October 2005
David Gemmell is a master of his craft and to say that I have enjoyed his books would be an understatement. However when I picked up this one I did so with a little less enthusiasm than usual. I had heard the odd comment, seen a couple of reviews that suggested that this didn't measure up to the very high standards that Gemmell has set himself. I am pleased to say they were wrong. Maybe it lacks a character as strong as Druss or Waylander! Maybe it doesn't quite have the impact of Legend or Wolf in the shadow! But do we just want more of the same?
Echoes of the Great Song is a little more subtle than previous offerings, luring you into a broken world where the ruling race, The Avatars have enjoyed the power of gods. However the time of the Avatar is nearing its end. They find their society slipping into oblivion, rendered near powerless by a natural disaster. As rulers they had once been great but their power had ultimately corrupted them. Echoes of the Great Song for me threads the stories of its numerous characters together to weave a tapestry of sacrifice and redemption. Gemmell's gift is to create characters we both love and hate. Wonderful characters, capable of acts of both great good and evil. Characters, that catapults us into the grey area between light and dark.
My verdict, a great read and I can't wait to read Troy Legend of the Silver Bow his latest offering.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 25 March 2014
I bought and read this book some fifteen years ago and came across it again when going through my book shelves and book cases in a rather desperate attempt to find some space for new books. I ended up reading it again, and remembered why I had loved it so much the first time. It simply has it all and it certainly remains one of my favourite fantasy books.

The story is David Gemmell’s take on the Atlantis myth, with the civilization and Empire of the Avatars that once dominated the world mostly destroyed by a huge natural cataclysm followed by a growing ice age. All that remains are five smallish cities at the extremity of what was once the Empire, with a few hundred of the “chosen race” still lording it over the local populations and still largely unable to come to grips with the new reality, and unable to break away from their past.

The Avatars had become almost immortal, thanks to a particular technology based on crystals that can prolong life and cure almost all diseases. Their civilisation and weapons were so advanced that their massive ships needed neither sail nor oars but seemed to rely on solar energy. This is at least what I gathered, although the exact source of energy point is never made perfectly clear. What is clear, however, is that their energy used to come from their great pyramids, which are now buried under hundreds of meters of ice. They have managed to tap some of it for several decades and thanks to this, the once minor and far away colonial settlements that are all that is left of the Empire have developed. However, the energy that was stocked in the Great Pyramid of their now submerged capital is running out. It cannot be replenished and the remnant of their civilisation seems doomed.

To make things worse, the overwhelming majority of the population of the five remaining cities and their hinterland are second class citizens, at best, and quasi-slaves, at worst. They are the subjects of a rather racist regime founded on the superiority of the vanished Empire and the vanishing technological superiority of their masters. They are also subject to their harsh laws and cruelly punished by being “crystal-drawn” (although I will not tell you what this exactly entails!). The neighbouring tribes, with at least some akin to “Red Indians”, are made to pay tribute to their overlords. All, however, know that their domination is coming to an end and the arrival of another race from a parallel world, a race that is even more cruel and much more bloodthirsty (and which is loosely based on the Aztecs), will precipitate the change.

The second major feature that makes this book quite superb is the characterisation. As others have already mentioned, a number of characters correspond to types found in other books of Gemmell, such as Rael the old strategist (although like all Avatars, he looks about thirty although he is centuries old), who reminded me of the White Wolf in Winter Warriors, or the Viruk the killer, who most believe to be insane, although he is not, or even Taleban the swordsman, ship captain and general. Others, including Mejana, the middle aged madam who turns out as a freedom fighter, or Soforita, whose talent isolates her from all of her fellow citizens, are also somewhat familiar characters.

There are however several things that stand out in this book’s characterisation. One is the general feeling of doom, gloom and sadness that permeates through the whole book. Another is that all of the Avatars know that their days are numbered and their world is dying. Part of the author’s skill is to show the various ways in which they try to cope and adjust with a wide range of emotions and characters traits including arrogance, sense of duty, selfishness, greed, cowardice, bravery, atonement, humility and many other features, some noble and others much less so.

The third major feature of this book is the story itself, which I will NOT spoil. The only element that I can mention is that, from the very beginning, it is crystal clear (no pun intended!) that the story will not have a “happy ending”. It is fast-paced, exciting and moving, especially when the Avatars decide to fight against the odds a war than they cannot hope to win or even survive. They nevertheless chose to go down fighting, because of who they are and perhaps even more because of who they used to be (hence the book’s title), and become legends and Gods as a result…

Five shining stars (and I would have given it ten if this had been possible!) for a book that is one of the easiest to rate that I have ever come across…
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VINE VOICEon 21 April 2004
...But it's still Gemmell. The strange thing about this novel is that,unlike in usual David Gemmell novels, I didn't find myself overlyattatched to the characters. I used to think that I read on into the nightbecause I really cared what happens to them, but this book showed me thatmaybe that wasn't the case. There is a lot of swapping from point of viewto point of view with around eight characters sharing the narrative, andsix of these are probably as important to the plot as each other. There isalso little of the intricate descriptions of hand-to-hand (orsword-to-sword) combat that usually characterises Gemmell's writing sowell. But that didn't seem to matter to me here, and perhaps it is thetwists and turns of David Gemmell's story-lines that keeps me intrigued.This novel certainly has all that is necessary in the story-lines, and thenew magic is a joy to learn about, as always. This is a cracking read,although it seems a far cry from Legend and Waylander. Perhaps that is thefifteen or so years?
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on 16 October 1999
I read my first Gemmell book when I was 10 ('Waylander') and I was instantly hooked. I have subsequently bought all of the Drenai series.
All of the characters in 'Echos of the Great Song' are fascinating and make this book excellent. However, it is not just the characters which make the story great. It is also the thrilling storyline and the way Gemmell can make us loath a character one minute and then twist the character around with some self-sacrificing deed or another(such as Viruk).
Gemmell is indeed the King of heroic fantasy and I wait for his next book with anticipation and hope that there are many more to come. 'Echos of the Great Song' is absolutely fabulous and a superbly moving and exciting book.
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on 22 March 2001
Being a big Gemmell fan, it came as a big surprise to me that I had to make three attempts to get into this story. The first two times I put it down and didn't some back to it in time. Perhaps this indicates a lack of pace in the opening chapters.
Having now finished the whole book, I find I have mixed feelings about it, hence the slightly meagre three-star rating. On the plus side, DG successfully conjures the atmosphere of a dying empire and the arrogance of the ruling Avatars who refuse to accept the inevitable decline that is facing them. There are many of the characters familiar to Gemmell readers: Talaban, the Haunted Warrior, Rael, The Elder Stategist and so on. But none of them are cardboard stereotypes. And Viruk the Madman is a masterpiece of characterization. The pace in the last third of the book as events move to their climax is blistering, and kept me up to the wee hours of the morning.
But all the way through, I had the definite feeling that we had been here before. A plucky band of men and women must fight for survival against a clearly superior foe with only their guile and courage to aid them...We've walked these paths before with DG. Although this one does have an extra spin to it (thanks largely, I suspect, to Fingerprints of the Gods), the science-fiction trappings can't hide the plot that we saw in Dark Moon, Knights of Dark Renown, and all the way back to Legend.
That said, even a below par Gemmell is very entertaining, and makes an effective antidote to those interminable three-volume quest fantasies. And if the plot is good enough for George Lucas....
I wouldn't recommend this as an introduction to Gemmell, as it is not typical of him. But hardcore fans who approach it expecting tight, concise writing, sharply observed characterisation and emotion filled drama will not be disappointed.
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on 15 July 2003
David Gemmel is my favourite author, I own a copy of all but his latest title. The fantasy fiction genre can sometimes get a bit samey, here comes the hero dressed in white to battle the villain dressed in black. Gemmel has a habit of making his "heros" imperfect people which always makes them more interesting. This is the only respect in which I find his work predictable. Sometimes the character dialog can be a little wooden but this is easily forgiven. Gemmel writes the sort stories which are highly original, very compelling with characters you can get very involved with. Very difficult to put down.
Echoes of the Great Song is in my opinion his most refreshing and different novel which at the time of writing is a stand alone work. If you want to get into Gemmel start here before you start to work out which order to read the other books in.
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on 20 July 1999
I found this book to be totally engrossing. I simply couldn't put it down and sat riveted for 14 hours. I can't quite put my finger on why I enjoyed it so much, but it's certainly my favourite David Gemmell novel. It's like nothing I've ever read before; the rich contrast in characters, the sublimely conjured imagery and the refreshingly original plot. I loved it and wholeheartedly recommend it.
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A hard book to get into, but when you get beyond those first few pages, the rewards are immense. The epic tale of the last warriors of the Avatar race, and the journey of the Avatar army, lead by the hero of the story, Talaban.
Threats of the crystal queen of far away lands bring the downfall of the dwindling numbers of the Avatars. The book tells the amazing story of how the Avatars fight against a force they know they can never defeat, but show that true bravery will always overcome evil.
The only problem with this book is that after about half way through you cannot possibly put it down.
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on 17 August 2002
this was a wonderful book from the word 'go'!! its different to the other gemmell books ive read so far, though theres all the usual beautiful characterisation he pulls off so well...you might find a problem with the fact that it starts off slower than the rest...thats the same problem i did..in videogaming terms its like playing 'hidden and dangerous' right after 'quake'(considering i read a Waylander book the night before i started this!)!! really...but the end makes it all worthwhile..one of the better endings...the epilogue actually got me laughing with relief because 'he' made it,i read that over and over and it still makes me smile!! read it,NOW!! well,i guess id say that about every single one his books,keep em comin Dave...
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