The King Beyond the Gate (Drenai Saga #2) ★★★☆½

kingbeyondthegate (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The King Beyond the Gate
Series: Drenai Saga #2
Author: David Gemmell
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 321
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Several generations after the events that took place in Legend, Drenai is now ruled by a mad sorcerer who discovered ancient machines that allowed him to fuse men and animals, thus creating super warriors completely under his thrawl. Ceska started out as just an advisor but now he rules. Along the way he destroyed the one group that could have destroyed him, The Dragons. Elite Warriors, the Dragons chose not to oppose Ceska when he initially took control but were later destroyed by him. A few of them survived the ambush mainly by not being there. One such Dragon was Tanaka Khan, a half caste of Drenai Nobility AND Nardir nobility.

He sets out on a quest to assassinate Ceska, not caring if he lives or dies afterwards. Along the way he comes across old and new friends and realizes he really doesn’t want to die. He gets help from the new 30 and eventually must seek the aid of his Nardir brethren. However, the only way to gain such aid is to become their Chief. He does so but visions of Nardir supremacy begin dancing through his head like sugar plums on Christmas Eve.

Ceska is destroyed along with his Dark Templars (dark versions of the 30) and Tenaka returns to the Nardir. The Epilogue reveals how he comes back to Drenai with a Nardir army in several years and is opposed by former allies from this story.

 

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this a tiny bit more than Legend even while the action was a bit less. It “almost” bordered on the repetitive what with the multi-walled stalling approach but the Joinings (the man/beast hybrids) were a cool idea even if a bit under utilized.

I was talking with someone on Librarything about Gemmell and I realized that I would have enjoyed this stuff much more 15-20 years ago. I think this is geared a bit more towards the adolescent and young adult male but I don’t know how the modern soyboi would take it. Anyone CAN read this but if you’ve read fantasy for close to a decade I suspect this won’t tickle your fancy quite as much.

Nothing bad and I enjoyed this and plan on continuing the series, just not “fantastic” if you know what I mean.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

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Legend (Drenai Saga #1) ★★★☆½

legend (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Legend
Series: Drenai Saga #1
Author: David Gemmell
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 369
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

The horse tribes have united under one leader, a charismatic man who is brutal, bloodthirsty and visionary. He has kept the peace with the Drenai Empire for the last number of years with treaties. Now the time has come for him to ignore those treaties and engulf the Drenai. The first step is taking over the gateway fortress.

Druss the Legend is now an old man. Throughout his life he has been in many battles and earned that title of Legend. He has been called to the fortress to defend against the horde. What he finds is a corrupt series of officers, a demoralized, understaffed army and a citizenry already talking of surrender. Druss is a warrior though, not a leader. He can inspire and kill, but he can’t really lead. The Duke of the fortress is a good friend of Druss, but he’s riddled with cancer and dies just a few days after Druss arrives.

Thankfully, the Duke was a good man and knew his time was near. He sent out his daughter to hire the 30, a group of ascetic monks with temporal powers that translated into physical powers. They are also master strategists. Between them and Druss, the Duke hopes to give his city a fighting chance. The daughter runs into a warrior and ends up marrying him. He becomes the next Duke even though he hates fighting.

The city has 7 walls and everyone fights until the last wall. With a million warriors, it would appear that the warlord is assured victory. However, he gets a missive that his nephew has revolted back home and is trying to usurp him. He leaves and the couple of hundred survivors among the Drenai get to live. Druss has fallen in battle, the 30 have fallen, except for one who will start the next 30 and the Duke and his wife magically survive.

 

My Thoughts:

This was decent epic fantasy. It would seem to be the end of the Drenai Empire, so either the next set of books go back in time or there is a resurgence. My guess is going back in time to see how Druss became the Legend that he is here.

The city/fortress reminded me of Tolkien’s Minas Tirith, what with its sets of walls. Also, the whole tone of the book was Forgotten Realms, just with better writing and plotting.

The magical deus ex machina at the end concerning the Duke and his wife was a bit tough to accept but when you want a happy ending, that’s pretty much your only option. That, or they both survive the entire battle, which I would find even more unbelievable.

I’ve avoided Gemmel for decades because the descriptions just never drew me in. Now that I’ve actually read one his books, I expect I’ll be searching out all his stuff and reading it. It is very enjoyable and exactly what I am looking for in a fantasy. Good triumphs, Evil is conquered and lots and lots of fighting. The battles on the walls were great.

★★★☆½

 

bookstooge (Custom)