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64 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hearkens back to the days of yore...
...Legend is one of the most refreshing books I have read in a good long time (probably since the last time I read it). It is not great literature, and it doesn't try to be. What it is is a grand heroic adventure full of awesome, bloody, inspiring battle scenes, motivational speeches and pep talks to shame BraveHeart, brave warriors, beautiful women (most of whom also...
Published on January 1, 2001 by Nathan

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Not his best...
Interesting read. Colorful. I found the characters a wee bit unbelievable - personality wise. BUT, a good read for a rainy day, or when you are snowed in!
Published 15 months ago by Maria Nunes


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64 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hearkens back to the days of yore..., January 1, 2001
By 
Nathan (Wilmington, DE United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Legend (Drenai Tales, Book 1) (Mass Market Paperback)
...Legend is one of the most refreshing books I have read in a good long time (probably since the last time I read it). It is not great literature, and it doesn't try to be. What it is is a grand heroic adventure full of awesome, bloody, inspiring battle scenes, motivational speeches and pep talks to shame BraveHeart, brave warriors, beautiful women (most of whom also happen to be brave warriors), magic, sieges, true love, valor, and all that other good stuff. It is the story of a vast empire, soft due to complacency, that is being threatened by the barbarian hordes basically. All that stands in the way of the main barbarian armies is one fortress, vastly undermanned, and the soldiers there aren't really soldiers at all but farmers volunteering as soldiers. And at fifty to one odds against, their chances of holding the fort until their empire can raise a REAL army aren't looking good. Enter Druss, fat old man and legendary warrior, who has never lost a battle, who has never given up, who has never sacrificed his principles. The main point of this book is, can the defenders hold out long enough, can this living legend fighting with them give them enough hope to survive. The question isn't whether they will win, but rather how long until they lose. Don't look for deep characters or character development here, look for grand heroes and grander villains, who make their point with actions much more than words. But what action! This has quickly become one of my favorite books just to pick up an read. Try it, you'll love it!
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars R.I.P. David Gemmell, Age 57, LEGEND, August 5, 2006
By 
This review is from: Legend (Drenai Tales, Book 1) (Mass Market Paperback)
I just heard the news that David Gemmell has died at the age of 57. He had recently undergone heart surgery, but was unable to make a full recovery.

I've read a lot of fantasy novels, but very few excited and inspired me like David Gemmell's. He wrote dozens of novels, and while the characters and situations changed, the essential message remained clear - that every person, however flawed or tormented, has inside them a seed of nobility and courage that can change the world around them.

You see this clearly in Legend. Druss is an old man who comes to a hopeless situation knowing it will mean his death. His wife is dead, his friends are dead. All he has left is to make a final stand. Will it make a difference against such a vast invading army? I'll let you find that out when you read Legend. Druss was clearly the main character in Legend, but the book was full of other characters - normal men and women - struggling to overcome their own weaknesses and do the right thing in the face of impossible odds.

This, I think, is the lesson I continue to learn from David Gemmell's work. You don't have to be a warrior with a magic axe. You don't have to lead a perfect life. You can be a normal, messed-up human being like everyone else. And when you find yourself faced with that tough decision, whatever it may be, you have it within you to make a stand...to do the right thing.

I'll miss that sense of anticipation I felt waiting for each new Gemmell release, but I'll continue to treasure the many novels he gave us, and look forward to the day when I can share them with my son.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is It, November 7, 2005
This review is from: Legend (Drenai Tales, Book 1) (Mass Market Paperback)
After reading this book, I went out and bought everything that David Gemmell ever wrote, and I buy every new novel he writes. This is a classic tale, full of adventure, and tremendous battles. This is the story of Druss, a man so powerful, even his enemies respect him. Druss is not perfect however, he is a man who sees things only in black or white. You can either be right or wrong, no inbetween. If you like fast paced adventure and terrific writing, pick this one up along with all the Drenai tales.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gemmell picks up where Robert E. Howard left off!, August 5, 2002
By 
Eric Donaldson (Houston, Texas USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Legend (Drenai Tales, Book 1) (Mass Market Paperback)
If you like the work of Robert E. Howard, especially his original (unedited and longer) Conan stories, you will love the books of David Gemmell. Gemmell is a storyteller; his books make no pretense of grand opera or intricately twisted social/political thriller. They are very entertaining at the least, and gripping, tense, and emotionally involving at their best. His Drenai Saga is my personal favorite (all those books are great, but heroic fantasy is my overall favorite, personal taste), but I like almost all of his books. Legend was the first of his books I read and I was immediately hooked on his vivid, gritty, you-are-there writing style. In their setting, his characters are believable, consistent, and easy to identify with which gives you a real attachment to them. (NOTE: much weaving of the tale at the beginning of the book for greater immersion in the world; you will have read to about page 60 before you find the first mention of Druss the Legend himself, and then on another 16 pages or so - his "meeting" with Dorian, heh heh, classic Gemmell - to shift the focus to Druss) While each book in the series is self contained and enjoyable in itself, reading the other books in the Saga add a great deal to the depth of the series. Each book is staggered in its place in the timeline of the Drenai world, and it is great fun to see the contents of a previous or later book in the series to now be the history, "legends" and myths of the current book you are now reading. It gives the Drenai Saga a cohesiveness that adds greatly to the feel that you are reading about the exploits of real people. Even rank and file soldiers and townspeople, usually generic in most heroic fantasy, often get to add their own 2 cents worth to the dialog adding a lot to your feel for the setting; how often to you get to see the hero's actions reflected upon by the common man - militia who get drafted from their farms to be his army, merchants who have their goods conscripted to protect the town, etc.? You touch many other people's lives in the course of reading just one book, and while some might find that distracting I find it to add a lot of color and depth to the setting. The multiple viewpoints (often from the "enemy" side characters as well) certainly keep the book from getting locked into an easy black/white, good or evil stereotype.
Any way you want to enjoy them, just a good action story or to reflect on the best and worst traits of mankind and what makes a "hero", David Gemmell's "Legend" and the Drenai Saga will not disappoint.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Legend, September 19, 2001
This review is from: Legend (Drenai Tales, Book 1) (Mass Market Paperback)
Legend is a war story wrapped thinly in a fantasy shell, make no mistake about it. The places and peoples are fictional, and here and there is a small dose of magic or the supernatural (and most of that coming near the end), but Gemmell's world seems very real - like a past that never existed. The action in this world centers primarily around Rek, a thoughtful rogue, a warrior woman, Virae, and Druss the Legend. Together with a vast assortment of other interesting characters, their task is to defend the Drenai stronghold of Dros Delnoch from the invading Nadir barbarians. The odds are stacked highly against them, but this is how legends are born.
Gemmell's writing style is a little disconcerting at first, as he certainly takes no pleasure in beating around the bush. The pacing is fast - almost rushed - for many of the opening chapters, but in retrospect this is a welcome thing. Other authors such as Robert Jordan would do well to take the David Gemmell approach and forsake any sort of "filler." Don't expect Gemmell to tell you how much decore there is in a room, or what designs are woven into the carpet - he just tells you that you're in a room, and moves on immediately into more important matters. Characters get just as little discription at times, but are brought to life by their actions as the story progresses (though I dare say that too many unimportant characters are introduced during the course of the novel). If Gemmell has a weakness as a writer, it comes only in his ability to create atmosphere. The atmosphere in Legend is basic (but functional), and though the world in which the battles are fought seems real enough, it is given little description.
What Gemmell is exceedingly good at is inspiring the reader through bold deeds and courageous exploits. As one reads Legend, he wonders if the world we live in now would not benefit a great deal from the codes of honor with which most of Gemmell's characters lead their lives. Even the foes of the Drenai, the Nadir, are sympathetic in their own fashion. In fantasy fiction, most authors have a hideously evil villain and the heroes who stand against it, but in Legend the heroes are ordinary men in extraordinary circumstances, and there are no clear-cut villains. This is refreshing.
Legend is supremely quotable, filled with excellent dialogue - both comedic, ironic, and vastly inspirational. The characters are lovable and touchable. Legend is a tale of glory and triumph, even through death, that manages to stand tall in a crowded genre and demand attention. It is a fantastic read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last - a believable fantasy author!!!, March 8, 1999
By 
This review is from: Legend (Drenai Tales, Book 1) (Mass Market Paperback)
I bought this book when it was first published in paperback and have now read it so many times that my copy is falling apart!
For the first time I've found a fantasy author who actually goes to the trouble of building believible characters. His heroes (and heroines) are flawed people living in a flawed world, trying to live by a code of honour even when it is obvious that the world in general does not share this belief. The main characters: Druss, Rek, Orrin et al are all believible and made more so by the fact that it is clear from the narrative that they struggle as much with their own fears and consciences as with their physical enemies, the Nadir.
In an almost unheard of departure from traditional fantasy stories, the author has dispensed with having an 'evil' adversary: it is clear that Ulric wants to bring down the Drenai not out of any evilness on his part, but as the only way to ensure the rise of his own people. His forces take on the mantle of evil simply because they oppose the heroes of the novel.
As for the storyline itself, all I can say is Superb! The waning Drenai Empire is faced by the hordes of Ulric Kahn, founder of a vast barbarian empire, at the legendary fortress of Dros Delnoch. The vastly outnumbered defenders must hold the fortress long enough to give the Drenai nation time to build an army capable of holding Ulric's forces at bay. Aided by a group of mystic warrior-priests and the hero Drus an unknown Drenai leader must defend the fortress to the last.
David Gemmell has excelled in this story of ancient siege warfare and, without a dragon or elf in sight, produced what is probably the greatest fantasy in the last twenty years.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gemmell's Masterpiece, All The Books Of This Series Are A Must!, July 4, 2005
By 
"The Woj" (Downers Grove, IL) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Legend (Drenai Tales, Book 1) (Mass Market Paperback)
I never was a big reader....Playstation 2, Cable TV, listening to cds & the internet was where I spent my downtime. Then I read my first Gemmell novel, "White Wolf", one year ago. My next book was this one, "Legend". Since then I have read every book of his I could get my hands on until I had read them all. This book (and the every book of "Drenai Tales Series") is/was major science fiction/fantasy triumph. I could go on & on about how great Gemmell is, how great the characters are, etc, etc and it would all be true. But the main reason I love his books is that he puts you there, right there in the story. He takes you away from the sick kids, the fight you had with your wife, the bad day at the office, whatever your "ill" of the moment is and transports you into a world of heroic fantasy that seems all too real. It might be the fact he Gemmell touches on so many relevant human traits such as honor, loyalty, honesty, courage, friendship, respect that seem to be lacking in today's fast paced, "me first" society. Reading Gemmell puts me in a world I want to be part of and experience first hand. A world I wish could spill over into our modern one.

Anyway, enough rambling. If you are a Gemmell fan, purchasing this book is pretty much a no brainer and you shouldn't even be reading this. If you are a person who has never read any of Gemmell's work, purchase this book along with every book of the series and save yourself some cash on shipping. Even check out zSHops for some great prices on used copies. I guarantee you won't be disappointed.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As epic as Ender's Game, August 14, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Legend (Drenai Tales, Book 1) (Mass Market Paperback)
Wow, this book brought forth a new level of fantasy reading that I never thought possible. Once you get to about halfway through the book, it is impossible to put down. Gemmell writes descriptive, bloody battles that make you feel like you are there developing even the smallest characters before they die. Yes, the overall plot is simple (most of it is a single battle where 20,000 men defend a keep against half a million invaders), but the emotion tied up in each character, and the descriptions in every scene are breathtaking. This book is one of those "read it over and over until the cover falls off" books like Ender's Game and Wheels of Time (well, maybe thats going a bit over the top, but trust me its worth the read!)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is how it's done!!!!, February 5, 2007
By 
Greg "KidGreg" (North Carolina, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Legend (Drenai Tales, Book 1) (Mass Market Paperback)
Before there was JRR Tolkien, there was Robert E. Howard who created what would later be called Heroic Fantasy or Sword-and-Sorcery. With the justly-earned popularity of Lord of the Rings, it seems to me that many writers and publishers of fantasy fiction have forsaken the heroic ballads for overly-complex, over-sized, and, endless series. David Gemmell has not forgotten the heart of a good fantasy tale which is simply heroes (or anti-heroes).

This is the story of Druss, the Captain of the Axe, the Deathwalker, the Legend and his defiant stand with the heroes of Dros Delnoch against the massive overwhelming barbarian hordes who vow to conquer the kingdom. It's the classic "few stood against many" theme that when done right makes one's heart soar. Mr. Gemmel defiantly knows how to do it right and then some. The story starts out pleasantly entertaining, but before you know it, it reaches out to grab you by the guts.

Legend was my first of what will be many David Gemmell books and all I can say is what took me so long to give him a try.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Now This Is What I'm Talkin' About!, May 18, 2003
By 
This review is from: Legend (Drenai Tales, Book 1) (Mass Market Paperback)
As a recent transplant to the fantasy genre, I bought a bunch of books with interesting covers. This is perhaps not the most scientific way to purchase books, but I fell in love with the Lord of the Rings movies, then the books by JRR Tolkien, and I was hungry to continue the adventures. This series fits the bill perfectly. It is full of heroes, humor, angst, action, and sacrifice. The characters are fully fleshed out. Even the minor characters, the ones you learn to care about despite the fact you know they probably won't survive until the last page, are well-rounded and distinct. Magic is used sparingly, and always to chilling effect. Someone said this series is not great literature. Well, I find most of the books in the "literature" section to be dull as day-old toast. I am proud to be an action-adventure junkie! Legend feeds the need.
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Legend (Drenai Tales, Book 1)
Legend (Drenai Tales, Book 1) by David Gemmell (Mass Market Paperback - October 1, 1994)
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