David Gemmell – Waylander

All of Waylander’s instincts had screamed at him to spurn the contract from Kaem the cruel, the killer of nations. But he had ignored them. He had made his kill. And even as he went to collect his gold, he knew that he had been betrayed.
Now the Dark Brotherhood and the hounds of chaos were hunting him, even as Kaem’s armies waged war on the Drenai lands, intent on killing every man, woman, and child. The Drenai soldiers were doomed to ultimate defeat, and chaos would soon reign.
Then a strange old man told Waylander that the only way to turn the tide of battle would be for Waylander himself to retrieve the legendary Armor of Bronze from its hiding place deep within a shadow-haunted land. He would be hunted. He was certain to fail. But he must try, the old man commanded–commanded in the name of his son, the king, who had been slain by an assassin…
Waylander was the most unlikely of heroes–for he was a traitor, the Slayer who had killed the king…

Wow, I actually liked this a great deal more than I thought on first impression. Yes, I seem to go through books like candy lately, one a day or so, especially if they’re fast-paced like this one was – which gets me to write a bunch of reviews lately, basically helping me to keep track of what I read and not forget to post a few lines here.

Anyway, I’ve been planning on getting into David Gemmell’s work for quite a while now, but somehow I wanted to start with something shorter that can be read as a standalone – I also have his Parmenion books (Lion of Macedon and Dark Prince), but for now I wanted something different so I picked up Waylander on a whim, after the manifold recommendations from two people whose opinion in books I’m holding in quite high esteem 😉 I certainly wasn’t disappointed, when I picked up Waylander this morning.

What begins as your stereotypical fantasy-setting – country on the brink of war, well actually quite in the thick of it, characters make a rather unlikely alliance and set out for a quest to retrieve magical(?) item of awesome – pulls you into a fast-moving fantasy tale, rich in plot and character-depth. Oh and let’s not forget sarcastic and utterly hilarious lines like Waylander talking to the ‘priest’ Dardalion:

“Your kind likes to suffer – it makes them holy.”


“Go away, I want to die alone.”

Since I’m a newbie to Gemmell’s books, I daresay that Waylander, though part of the Drenai series, can very well be read as a standalone and serves as a great introduction in Gemell’s unique, often sarcastic and character- as well as dialog-driven style.

Waylander is one of those darker, but awesome fantasy books whose premise reminds me a little of Stephen King’s Gunslinger, while I’d say that Gemmell definitely portrays the loner Waylander in a less abstract and more comprehensible way. I remember a friend talking about his character being “kinda…uh…neutral?” and I guess that pretty much sums him up. Yes, we have our standard assassin here who ruthlessly kills for money and he doesn’t really have qualms about it until it’s already too late, but nevertheless he’s that sort of character that just keeps you reading, because you want to find out more about them.

As far as I know there are at least two more books in the Drenai series that feature Waylander and I’ll be sure to pick them up next time when I go to the bookstore, because I definitely want more of this now 🙂


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