Top positive review
on January 16, 2002
This is the ninth of Gemmell's Drenai tales, and the fourth in the Waylander series.
Waylander is a hugely sympathetic hero, being a man touched by tragedy and lately warped by the desire for revenge, but now with no motive other than to eliminate darkness from the world - or at least from his corner of it, simply because he wants to live free from the shadow of evil, not for some great moral crusade. This makes him seem very human, although some of the acts he performs are inhuman; the complexity and tensions in his character make him all the more accessible to the reader, as he is presented in an honest light, neither good nor evil - but exceptionally gifted at what he does. Killing people. And the occasional demon.
In this novel Waylander seems quite settled and, if not happy, then reasonably content with his life. He is rich and comfortable, he has a huge palace and many servants, a vast library and even a pioneering hospital. He assists the local nobles when they fall into debt and he keeps his local area free from bandits and raiders. His past is something of a mystery and to a certain extent he has managed to leave the tragedies and misdeeds of his early life behind him.
But evil returns to haunt him and make him face his ghosts when a portal is opened to a world of flesh-hungry half-human creatures devoted to possession of every possible dimension. This irritates Waylander considerably, and he sets out to put a stop to the nonsense. It will cost him dear.
Together with a skilled swordsman, a young girl he has rescued from raiders who proves to be adept with throwing knives and the crossbow Waylander himself favours, a young ditch-digger with ambitions of heroism and a priestess gifted with farsight, but with a painful and terrible secret, Waylander sets out to rid the vicinity of the evil that threatens.
This involves a quest to reawaken ancient warriors, the unmasking of a supreme and supremely evil mage, and a ferocious battle against overwhelming odds.
Once again, Gemmell delights and surprises in this disquieting yet satisfying novel of darkness and light and the shades of grey in between. Another triumph from the master - another breathtaking adventure for the reader.