According to Wikipedia (without citation), David Gemmell originally began Legend while being tested for cancer. It was a straightforward metaphor: Dros Delnoch represented him, beleaguered by a formidable foe, the Nadir standing in for the cancer. Perhaps the doctor who was able to tell him he did not, after all, have cancer was a crusty old man who felt obliged to keep tending patients because in some way he was the only one to do it.
But that is, of course, just conjecture. The title, Legend, now pertains not only to Druss, renowned hero of past wars, but to the book itself. It is a giant in the genre, a benchmark and milestone for what are now several solid fantasy tropes.
My first Goodreads status update was:
“P. 14, and I’m already in awe. The prologue: epic, and the 1st chapter was like a textbook on show-don’t-tell. I now know Rek and the others – and about the coming war – and never once did DG come right out and TELL me any of it. It was indirect and through dialogue and I should probably take notes it’s that bloody good. Except: head-hopping. No wonder I can’t break the habit when my examples are writers like this.”
I rate the book highly; I consider it required reading for a fantasy fan. But while it inspired me to read the rest of the first three Drenai novels, there I stopped, and there I’ll stay stopped for a little while. One reason was sheer overload. The body count in my reading was growing exponentially, with great battles and villages razed and soldiers, civilians, men, women, children, horses, and anything else writers felt like throwing in dying in their thousands throughout the book(s). In smallish doses I can manage this. I’m more cynical than I’d like to be, but when this sort of thing is unrelenting over several books that I start longing for fluffy puppies and buttercups and a complete absence of epicness and rotting corpses. This isn’t to say that David Gemmell’s writing is humorless; the characters exchange banter that is genuinely funny. The problem is that – this being war – so many of the characters you laugh with in one chapter are so very, very dead a few pages later. Still, Legend was the beginning of a re-read of Gemmell’s books, and – slowly, parceled out over time – I look forward to making my way through the rest of my collection. Interspersed with comfort reads, of course.
- Building Attractive Characters (madgeniusclub.com)