Series: The Drenai Saga #1
on June 8th 2011
Genres: Epic, Fantasy
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Druss, Captain of the Axe, was the stuff of legends. But even as the stories grew in the telling, Druss himself grew older. He turned his back on his own legend and retreated to a mountain lair to await his old enemy, death. Meanwhile, barbarian hordes were on the march. Nothing could stand in their way. Druss reluctantly agreed to come out of retirement. But could even Druss live up to his own legends?
“War. Such a little word, such a depth of agony.”
“Liberty is valued only when it is threatened; therefore, it is the threat that highlights the value.”
Ugh! I wanted to like this book so much more than I did. There were sentences, even paragraphs that I found brilliant, such as the ones I quoted above. But overall, I just didn’t connect with any of the characters, and therefore I just didn’t get into the book.
It’s your basic storyline: different people converging toward the same place and point in time. Each character has their own goals and reasons for going to said place, but overall I wasn’t that caught up in any one story.
I can’t fault any one thing in this book. The pacing was nice, action scenes were good and frequent enough, the world was built nicely, and the characters were fleshed out. As I mentioned, there were a few sentences that I loved and the writing was solid and at times beautiful. The dialog was … how should I put this? Epic, maybe? They seemed grand, like something you’d hear in some old movie; Gone with the Wind, or something. I don’t know how else to put it. Especially when we’re in Druss’s PoV. Which brings me to another point …
Oh, the horror of PoV changes. I actually didn’t mind it was much as I usually do in books. Gemmell stayed with a character a lot longer than some of the others I’ve read. Still, it’s jarring when you’re in one character’s head and then in another’s the next paragraph without warning. I always find it an unpleasant experience unless the author gives me a heads up. I must say, I’d love to read a Gemmell book done in first person.
Now, one thing that really turned me off pretty early on was the romance. Don’t get me wrong, I like romance in my books. I do. But when it happens overnight, literally, I just can’t get into it. I’ve said it before: if the characters have sex the first night they meet each other, super. If they feel some sort of connection, I can get behind that as well. After all, when I meet someone I can tell pretty early on if they’re going to drive me crazy or if I’ll be laughing with them by the end of the night. But professing undying love after one night? I just can’t. After that moment, I admit I checked out. Now, I do understand that this is fantasy and we must suspend belief sometimes, but for some reason fast romance has always bothered me, no matter the genre.
About those characters … What can I say? They were developed, each having their quirks and flaws. I liked Rek right off the bat and was excited to hear his story, but the tone that started out faded a bit. I was more interested in his PoV than any others, but it still didn’t drive me to keep reading. Druss is a character I liked, though I wasn’t obsessed. His over-the-top badass-ness was kinda fun, but it did wear a bit the farther I read.
I guess my tastes are changing over time. Had I read this ten years ago, I might have liked it more. Now, I like something a bit darker, grittier, or with a lot more humor.
I can’t fault Gemmell at all. He’s a legend (ha…see what I did there), and I have massive amounts of respect for his career achievements. His writing was solid, his pacing great, his storytelling pleasant. It’s just not the type of story I want to read these days.
So overall, if you’re into a bit more high fantasy, you’ll likely really enjoy this book. I think my mom would love it and fully intend on recommending it to her.