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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 27 November 2003
I have just finished reading this book for the fifth time! As a massive Gemmell fan, I have read each and everyone of David Gemmell's books and whilst ALL of them are excellent, Knights of Dark Renown has to be my favourite. It's a real epic heroic fantasy tale with a great twist in it. From the outset, when you are introduced to the Knights of the Gabala, (champions of good in the Nine Duchies), you are swept along by Gemmell's superbly descriptive narrative and he has a real knack for making his characters lifelike and believable. Despite having read this book four times previously, I still found myself unable to put the book down which is excellent testimony to this superb book. Despite what other reviewer's have said, I like the fact that none of the main characters are 'safe' and prefer a book where some are killed off or meet an heroic end.
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on 17 January 2001
As one of David Gemmell's biggest fans I would like to announce that this is one of his greatest books ever! I love his use of flawed characters, it seems to make them that more realistic and likeable, however I agree with an earlier review in that I would like to see some of these characters stay alive! This book starts of at a fairly slow pace, introducing us to the main protagonists making us think early on we know what is to come. This is where Gemmell truely comes into his own however. His characters never behave in the way that many characters in other books behave, here stereotypes are ignored or, when seen quickly booted to one side (in particular the chracter of the Duke, I wont spoil it for you by revealing what happens). It is the twists in characters that keep reading the book well into the early hours. One small gripe is that of the storyline. Here it is a small band of good guys taking on the might of an evil army, remind anyone of Winter Warriors? It seems that Gemmell only had about three different story lines from which to choose, although he does hide it well by his clever use of characters. I am impressed by the depth into which this book explores the characters and their flaws, something which is often missing in the current section of fantasy books. As the pace speeds up we are sent to places that we would never have expected to go, and the duel at the end is truely one of Gemmells greatest ever! All in all an excellent read and well worth trying for anyone who has not read any of Gemmell before!
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on 21 March 2012
Six years ago the nine Knights of the Gabala, upholders of peace and justice, travelled through a magical gate to the land of the Vyre. Their help had been requested and great rewards promised. A young boy, Lug, witnessed their departure and, in doing so, first discovered his own immense power. The Knights of the Gabala never returned from their mission - all but for the one of them called Manannan, whose cowardice led him to flee as the others crossed the threshold - and now the kingdom has become a place of fear, with people of nomadic descent being slaughtered to purify the lands. It is a place calling out for heroes to lead it back from the brink.

This was typical of Gemmell: the set-up sounds so cliched, so familiar, and yet - in the telling - it is anything but. He was the master of heroic fantasy, and he doesn't get nearly enough credit, as far as I'm concerned. His greatest strength was always in his ability to create vivid, memorable characters, and this book contains some of the best I have yet come across.

Knights of Dark Renown is a stand alone novel, its whole story contained within its 400 pages. The pacing is almost immaculate, with hardly a word or scene wasted. This is one of his earlier novels, yet it is easy to see the progression he had made in terms of his style from, say, Legend, already a classic of the genre. The dialogue, especially, is more natural. Ubadai, in particular, has some very funny and memorable lines.

The other thing with Gemmell was that he had no hesitation in killing off his best characters so long as - and this is crucial, in my opinion - they were true to themselves. None of his characters die without meaning and, consequently, emotion. He puts them in impossible situations and makes you watch as their fates are decided.

Finally, this book may not be his absolute best but it does have one of best last lines I have ever read - four simple words that left me with my jaw hanging open.

Many people seem to be comparing Joe Abercrombie to David Gemmell. In my opinion, Abercrombie can only wish he was this good.
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David Gemmell has long been one of my favorite authors after blasting through his work as a teenager. Knights of Dark Renown was never one of his novels that really stood out to me at the time. Re-reading it 15 years later though I seem to appreciate the book a lot more. The story is set in a country called Gabala, once a peaceful land protected by the legendary Knights of Gabala, nine men who acted as protectors, heroes and judges. Years later and the land is not what it was, the King is passing strange laws, there are red armoured knights under his command committing atrocities. The Knights of Gabala are needed once again but they disappeared years ago through a gateway to fight the legions of hell, all but one who was too afraid...

Knights of Dark Renown has a great cast of characters, always one of David Gemmell's strong points. He builds them up so well, their qualities, both good and bad to flesh them out. It has great pacing with a lot of excellent action scenes. Duels? Got them. Magic beasts? Got them too. If I had to pick a flaw, the main plot isn't especially interesting, yet the individual scenes in it are excellent, often surprising, and stand out along with the cast well above everything else.

Much like most of Gemmell's work I highly recommend giving this a read. It's just a great heroic fantasy novel.

+ Great cast of characters.
+ Excellent pacing.
+ Individual scenes are fantastic.
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on 18 March 2002
One mark of a good author is the ability to move away from the comfort zone, inhabited by both reader and writer, of familiar characters. Shifting away from both of his successful Drenai and Jerusalem Man series, Gemmell manages to create another fantastical world populated by heroes and villians. The story revolves around a group of characters brought together through strange circumstances to battle a great evil in classic although slightly cliche plot. Yet Gemmell's fluid writing that will leave you wondering why it has become so dark when you finally put the book down, never allows the slight flaws of similar characterisation to prevent his books from once again scaling the heights of the fantasy genre.
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on 10 December 2012
I'm a Gemmell fan and love his work. This book does what he always does best - captures the essence of being a human and trying to do one's best despite the odds. The heroes are sometimes the least likely and their human weaknesses all to evident. And yet when the cause arises they too rise up to meet the need. If you're a Gemmell fan you don't need me to tell you this is an excellent book. If you've never heard of Gemmell then this book is a great way to discover the wonderful world of fantasy that he imagined.
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on 17 March 2013
Not sure I enjoyed this as much as some of Gemmell's tales. Has a number of the elements that a Gemmell fan enjoys. Dark heroes and heroic villains and a mystic yet familiar world for them all to fight over. Still better than almost any other offering by any other author such is the talent and imagination of Gemmell.

A matter of personal taste if you like the magic in this story or not. Story and character development is not as strong as say the Waylander or Troy books. If you are a Gemmell fan and have not read this it's worth a go. If you have not read a Gemmell book before I would recommend either Lord of the Silver Bow, Waylander or King beyond the Gate as a better introduction, once hooked though this book will be welcome as unfortunately and tragically Gemmell is no longer with us.
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on 30 October 2000
This book is a must for all Gemmell fans, or perfect if you have never tried him before! From the opening page where a knight offers his enchanted blade to his opponent in a duel to the death, you sense you are in for a treat! It won't let you down! Once again the heroes of the story are misfits and flawed to the core, but still they manage to win through...well some of them! The book moves along at a cracking pace and if you are not too careful you will devour this in one sitting! I particularly enjoyed the duel I spoke of previously and one of the characters who has to team up with the man who killed her sister! Gemmell at his majestic best!
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on 15 March 2000
I have read all of David Gemmel's books an have been captivated by each and every one of them. However, Knights of dark renown has to be the best book Gemmel has writen so far. The knights of the Gabala become real people with real problems, and anyone who can make their readers feel like part of the story, are extremely talanted writers and as long as they belive in themselves then we will believe in them.
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on 3 July 2015
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.
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