March 2004
© 2004 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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The Swords of Night and Day by David Gemmel
Del Rey /Ballantine/ Random House HCVR: ISBN 0345458338 PubDate: 03/30/04
Review by Bill Lawhorn

432 pgs. List price $ 24.95
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Heroes never die, but sometimes they are brought back to life. In The Swords Of Night And Day, the Drenai once again face an implacable foe and extinction. Can the heroes of millennia past save the Drenaiís future?

Author David Gemmell returns to the lands of the Drenai. Gemmellís first published novel Legend was set in this world. The Swords Of Night And Day reintroduces many characters from this period of Drenai history. Skilgannon and other heroes are brought back to life using the magic of the ancient devices to face an undying queen who has lived for hundreds of years. At her call are armies of the powerful man-beast Joinings, the skill of the ruthless swordsman Decado, and the magic of Memnon.

Much of the action takes place in the lands near Dros Delnach where the Druss and the Earl of Bronze stopped the Nadir hoard. Skilgannon and his allies journey to the former site of the missing Temple of Resurrection to stop the power of the Eternal or die in the attempt. Skilgannon the unmatchable swordsman is joined by Harad a powerful axeman, Askari a skilled archer, and Stuvat a commoner who rises above his skills to do more than anyone thought possible all work together to stop a common foe. Along the way they join with all that remains of the Drenai, the Legend Riders and their leader Alahir. During their adventures they find that many of their beliefs may be false and that even monsters can be more human than man.

This is the eleventh novel set in the world of the Drenai. It has the standard set of heroes that you find in most of the previous novels. There are also several tragic love stories intertwined throughout the story. The straightforward plot has many of the characters facing dilemmas that are similar to those faced by their characters in earlier novels. They are reminiscent of those found in The Quest For Lost Heroes (Drenai #3) where an untutored peasant charges off to save a women he loves with the help of a great swordsman, a powerful axeman, and two suburb archers..

The villains in this book end up being more sympathetic than in standard fantasy novels. You want to hate the evil characters, but are left understanding why they end up being monsters. Was the evil of Decado due to the circumstances of his upbringing or was it all due to the actions of the man he trusted most? If you had ultimate power and lived forever, how would you act? If you are a clone, do you have a soul?

This novel can be read alone, but it is a much easier read if you have read the stories of Druss and Skilgannon. I would recommend reading at least Legend and White Wolf before taking up this novel. As in any series of books set in a particular world, there are many references to prior events and novels with at least a passing reference to every prior book. Having read all of the previous Drenai novels I thoroughly enjoyed this one. It was nice to revisit some of the old heroes, and of course get a few more tidbits on the history of the Drenai.

David Gemmell does a wonderful job of drawing readers into his books. The depth of his characters makes them empathetic and thus their adventures more enjoyable to follow. If you want perfect flawless heroes, go somewhere else. His greatest heroes are based on people that have affected him in life. Indeed, Druss, his greatest hero, is based on his stepfather.

The best thing an author can do is leave you wanting more. In the end, I want more. I was also left wondering just who the hero rode off into the sunset withÖ

© 2004 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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