My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This is somewhat bittersweet for me. I love David Gemmell and I longed to enjoy one of the few of his work I haven’t read yet, but it proved to be a discordant note instead, almost unsettling.
Firstly, I must say it’s strange that it comes after Legend and Knights of Dark Renown: both are much better, in my opinion. This “feels” like a first novel, and a bit unpolished at that.
Then, he used first person POV, unlike all others that I’ve read. I think he’s much better at third person POV.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a Gemmell’s story. You have the archetypes you are used to with DG’s work: the large, good-natured, axe-wielding man (but without the wisdom and charisma of Druss); the excellent swordman, sly and antihero-ish (but in no way as deep as Skilgannon or Rek or even Groundsel!); the crone, very powerful (but Hewla is a much more interesting character, although on the other spectrum of the good-evil axis); the bard (but do we want to compare Owen to Sieben?!).
And also most of DG’s themes: redemption; the reality of heroism, courage, cowardice; the “banality of evil” of most men, and the extreme wickedness of a few that needs to be fought despite all odds; etc.
But the execution does not live up to DG’s standards. It felt wrong somehow, as if not written by him or not edited appropriately or if a much earlier, inexperienced work. I don’t know.
My only advice is: if you don’t know DG, DON’T START WITH THIS. Start with “Knights of Dark Renown”, or “Legend” or “Waylander”.