Legend by David Gemmell
The Good: Heroes and heroines, heroic-fantasy, sword and sorcery, low fantasy, military fantasy.
The Bad: Skims on the trimming of finer detail, but not to the detriment of the plot. For those looking for a political thriller in their fantasy, or big magic systems, look elsewhere.
The Ugly Truth: Legend is the type of Legend spun by fireside mythmongers. It’s telling birthed a thousand more tales from authors all across the globe, earning Gemmell a place in the halls of heroic-fantasy for years to come. If you read fantasy, you need to read this.
It’s no mystery that I’m an avid fan of David Gemmell. He is my idol. The man is big-daddy-of-heroic-fantasy if you ask me. Legend was the first novel that I truly read. I could not read until I was eleven. No, that’s wrong. I did not want to read. Gemmell changed that for me, and he started with Legend.
Sure, the book is an ‘adult’ story, and I was little more than a spotty pre-teen. There’s violence, there’s love…there’s passion. I laughed and I cried. I read about men who stood against death and life itself. I wanted to be one of those men.
…Or women for that matter! (Gemmell caters to the strong female archetype in a fully realised nature.)
Gemmell writes ‘lightly’. Don’t take this the wrong way. He doesn’t skim on detail nor does he info-dump pages of history on you in a oner. His voice is light as it’s easy to read, so easy in fact that eleven-year-old-me who didn’t-want-to-read-EVER finished Legend in a single night. My mum wasn’t impressed with the bags under my eyes, but she was gobsmacked by the fact that I had actually read a book, let alone in a few hours.
I cared for the characters. I laughed when they laughed, cried when they cried, and cursed when things went awry for them. They are all human. Not just human in the typical fantasy trope (there’s no elves or dwarves here, back to Middle Earth for you high fantasy lovers!) but human in their emotion. Gemmell fully realises his characters so much so that they are real.
Sure, the basic plot is pretty norm. Small army versus bigger army, oh noes! But it’s the characters, their lives and the subtle plot twists that make this book…well, a classic. It’s these differences that turn Legend from an everyday fantasy novel, into a heroic-fantasy-legend.
Legend has something for everyone. It was Gemmell’s first novel, my first read, my first choice of book to review, and it will be the first choice if anyone asks me to recommend them a book.