The Swords of Night and Day by David Gemmell
Bantam Press (UK) HCVR: ISBN 0593044479 PubDate: 04/01/04
Review by Antony Wagman
464 pgs. List price £17
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David Gemmell should need no introduction to even the least avid Fantasy readers amongst you. His 30-odd previous novels (all, by the way, Sunday Times bestsellers) have propelled him to superstardom in the heroic fantasy genre. There are no ifs or buts nor whys or wherefores, Gemmell is GOOD. Simple as that! Over the past 20 years he has consistently produced works of quality and personally having read 27 of them as a punter, I am confident that I’m now well qualified to put forward an informed opinion on his latest.
The Swords of Night and Day is an excellent example of a well written sequel. In this case it is actually the summation of the 10 books of The Drenai, a warrior race of high morals, integrity and ethics.
One thousand years after White Wolf, Olek Skilgannon, “The Damned” returns with his deadly and eponymous Swords of Night and Day and once again plays tag-team with Druss “The Legend” and his war axe Snaga. How do they time-warp a millennium ? Well yet again, the admirable Gemmell finds a way to reunite our heroes not just with each other, but also with one of their deadliest enemies (I will leave the identity of the villain of the piece a surprise!) aided and abetted by an assortment of clones and descendants of all three with “Jems” (the vicious “Joinings” of man and beast ) playing a central role throughout the work. The Swords of Night and Day takes the reader through a gamut of emotions, identifying with the heroes, commiserating with innocent bystanders and even finding sympathy with misunderstood miscreants. Within the blood and guts standard fare of the genre, Gemmell has worked in some tasty love triangle issues, a great selection of ethical dilemmas and a marvelous bad guy becomes good guy becomes “sort of” bad guy becomes …well read it and find out!
Many times , in my own reviews of major authors who have written several books, my standard complaint is that they seem to have lost their way and fallen foul of the hungry beast “commercialism”, producing works of little depth, apart from the thickness of the tome. I am delighted to say that this couldn’t be further from the truth with The Swords of Night and Day. From page we are assailed with feelings, with action, with plots and with intrigue. A great start is followed by a great middle and topped by a great ending - there is little inane dithering nor page filling and the plot may actually be followed and believed (fantastically speaking of course!). This notwithstanding, The Swords of Night and Day is not a classic by any means . It breaks no new territory, nor opens new horizons. What it is, is a bloody good read!!