Sunday, 9 September 2012

Review: Waylander

Waylander by David Gemmell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Can you put a price on redemption?

The King is dead, and thousands are set to follow him. Drenai land is swept into the tides of war. Enemy soldiers sweep across the country, butchering man, woman and babe. It is a dark time, and dark work is at play.

Can salvation be earned?

Dardalion is a man of the light, a dying light in the dark days. But, he must confront the evil, and to face it a man must walk the shadows.

Karnak is a hero, a beacon of hope in the night. He kindles fire in the hearts of men, but his ambition burns brighter than the sun – and there is only room for one sun in the sky.

Waylander is a dark man; a hunter and a killer. Neither light nor torch can burn bright beside him, but no shadow is too dark for him to walk.

War can be won by strength, bravery and the hearts of good men. Yet, there is a path of shadows where neither hero nor torch can stray. But only dark men can walk the shadows. There is only one man for the job. But can he be trusted to save the Drenai?

For he is an assassin – a traitor – the man who killed the king.

He is Waylander.

Waylander is the third novel that David Gemmell wrote in the Drenai series. Set before his debut ‘Legend’, Waylander provides a legacy to Gemmell’s later works. As with other works by the author, the theme of redemption runs strong throughout, and though good and evil are at odds, the shades of grey divide the battlefields.

The main drive, as with all of Gemmell’s novels, is the characterisation. From the Priest Dardalion who battles with his will to do good, to the General and war-hero Karnak, each and every soul in this book is well fleshed. That’s actually a good way of putting it. Soul. That’s what each of Gemmell’s characters embodies. They aren’t just fictional marionettes toyed with for the readers’ pleasure. They live, they breathe, they fight, love and laugh. They have soul. And, that is why I love Gemmell.

...and that’s without even tackling the title character! Waylander is the anti-hero to Gemmell’s Druss the Legend. But, Waylander’s tragedy and choices, in my eyes, make him a richer character in some respects. He doesn’t just earn his place in reader’s hearts, he fights for it.

Gemmell has always written with a sharpened quill, crisp and quick. The story is fast paced and action packed, keeping the reader hooked throughout. There’s little room to catch a breath, and the first time I read Waylander, there was little room for me to sleep seeing as I finished it in a single night.

As stated earlier, Waylander is set years before Legend. But, the novel sets up a legacy for the later book in the series, namely the warrior priest sect The Thirty, and Karnak. These extra touches, weaves and webs to a fully envisioned world, add an epic scale to the Drenai saga, creating a fully realised world that, though fictional, feels lived in.

There are small evils and small goods to all men. But men are still men, they do wrong and they do right. Gemmell was an author that explored the limited strengths of the human being, and showed us what it was like to be a man. He sets the standard for idols, role models, and heroes.

After reading’ll want to be a man.

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