Top critical review
I wanted to like this book, but the mediocrity overwhelms
on April 27, 2001
I love Gemmel's writings, and anticipated this book more than any other in a long time. I was happy that he continued the story of Waylander, previously chronicled in two other books. And it was great to have another Gemmell book to read. Sadly this is one of his weakest attempts, and is an unfortunate finish to the great Waylander saga.
It seems that Mr. Gemmell has fallen into a bit of a rut. Although the Rigante books were very good, 'Hero in the Shadows' offers up nothing new in story or characters. Aside from a few of the main characters, the setting bears little resemblance to past Waylander books. Which makes sense, as the setting is different and does make the story new and interesting in that respect. But it didn't work, as this book didn't feel like it was truly part of the series.
Many of the characters were also haphazardly put together from bits and pieces of previous characters. There's Yu Yu, who fits the role of 'coward turned hero in face of adversity'. Keeva is the requisite 'strong female presence with the hard life' story. There's also an invulnerable wizard villain whom I feel like I have seen before.
What bugged me the most was the recycled plot elements that Gemmell seems to be fixated on (animal/man hybrids, parallel universes, weapons that glow when evil nears, etc.)
Aside from these faults, Gemmell still proves that his worst is better than most peoples good. The book is well written, and no one writes a fight scene better than this guy. I know that Gemmell is better than 'Hero in the Shadows', and could've turned out another Legend if he wanted to. I just hope this novel isnt a taste of things to come.