Sunday, 16 September 2012
Review: In the Realm of the Wolf
In the Realm of the Wolf by David Gemmell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
You can take the wolf from the hunt, but never the hunt from the wolf.
The hunters are come. Men of blood and blade. The price on their prey’s head is far too rich a sum to ignore. A princely sum for a single death, and only a king’s ransom can pay it. But what is the true cost of trapping such a prey?
The hunted waits. A man of anguish and anger. The price on his head warrants answers. A sum for the Prince of Assassins, and his answers demand payment in kind.
Hunters, Mercenaries, a dark brotherhood, demons – all want for his death. Though he is but a man, the Assassin is caught in a web of destiny, one which will shape the world for years to come. The rise and fall of nations rest on his shoulders, but more importantly, the aim of his crossbow.
All know what is said about cornered beasts…
…The wolf returns.
David Gemmell’s ‘Waylander II: In the Realm of the Wolf’ is a return to the land of the Drenai, a direct sequel to his earlier title ‘Waylander’. The stage has already been set in the titular novel, but this second act breathes fresh life into old favourites and furthers the Drenai universe for the future stories.
Waylander returns in all his violent triumph. Cold-blood, calculated and lethal above all else. Set years after his initial appearance, the assassin has favoured his given name, Dakeyras, and settled down. He wed Danyal, and raised the girls Krylla and Muriel as his daughters. In a cruel twist of fate, Danyal died in a tragic accident. Krylla has wed and moved away. Muriel alone is left, but what sort of child can an assassin raise?
Dakeyras has been lost to grief. But, when he hears of the price on his head, Waylander returns. At first, it seems that he waits for his hunters to find him, ready for the final showdown, to die as he only knows how – fighting. When answers come to light, the hunted becomes the hunter. Death has always been his answer, and this time its personal.
As well as the return of familiar faces (Karnak the war hero, and Dardalion the Priest), we are introduced to an endearing host of fresh personalities. Angel, the weathered and weary gladiator, carrying scars that mark his years of carving out a bitter hardship in life. Senta, the conceited swordsman who hides a heart beneath a roguish smile. And Muriel, the lost little girl raised by a killer, now a grown woman who hides more than just herself in the shadows.
As ever, Gemmell writers with a pace for purpose rather than eloquence. The story drags the reader along at crossbow-point, held by the throat, swept up in an elemental storm. The action is visceral, sharp, and the developments are precise and delivered with the infinite surety of an assassin’s shot between the eyes.
Gemmell is a master of the ‘greater story’. As with ‘Waylander’, in which he tilts the hat to his debut ‘Legend’ by name-dropping, in ‘Waylander II’ Gemmell continues to interweave details, going so far as to highlight ‘Tenaka Khan – The King Beyond the Gate’ the protagonist from, funnily enough, ‘The King Beyond The Gate’. That, and a few tongue-in-cheek references to the questionable purpose of Dros Delnoch standing against the Nadir foe…it’ll never happen…will it?
Where ‘Waylander’ was a story of redemption, ‘Waylander II’ is a story of acceptance. Accept what has happened and what you are. But will or can happen can be changed, that in itself is a truth that must be accepted. Embrace life.
…or as Waylander does, take it.
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