David Gemmell's Legend (1984) is pretty much a perfect example of what I love in high fantasy novels. High Fantasy, being stories told in a fantasy world populated by characters, events and plot best described as epic (think Lord of the Rings), is a sub-genre of Fantasy, and both Conan the Barbarian and Bilbo Baggins can fit in it with ease.
I've actually read a number of David Gemmell novels before, even ones set in the his Drenai Saga, but as I read those in Junior High and High School, I had never done the research to see if the books I was reading were part of a larger whole.
Legend is largely a novel about a siege. In many ways it echoes the American story of the Alamo and Gemmell did cite western author Louis L'Amour as an influence. The story involves thieves, farmers, warriors, townsfolk and an old warrior known simply as Druss the Legend, and follows these people as they defend a castle against an overwhelming force.
The story moves along at a great pace and puts a lot of value into all of it's characters, from the top down, drawing the reader into the story of this last great defence of a dying empire.
If you've never read fantasy novels before, I can't think of a better place to start. This book reminded me of everything I fell in love with the genre as a young man and although Gemmell passed away in 2006, he left over twenty novels that I guarantee I'll be checking out myself very soon.
1 month ago