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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
Hero in the Shadows (Drenai Tales, Book 9)
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on July 4, 2015
I loved the book and wish there were more Waylander books they are fantastic!
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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.
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on April 17, 2001
The header says it all. As a reader of fantasy for 22 years I have been witness to some wonderful writers, and teams of writers with their own unique view of their worlds. Yet never before has a writer so changed my idea of what a book should be. In Gemmel's book the sun shines on a world that is not much different from a dark age earth. The magic is decidedly low tech compared to others(A usual complaint with me). However, Gemmel uses the world as a backdrop to tell a story of sorrow, betrayal, life, and in the end, final redemption of a man so wrought with bitterness and self-loathing that you love him just for his courage to go on. It is a story of courage in the face of reality. Waylander comes alive as a man, not just a character, his lessons learned in the series are lessons all people learn in real life. Gemmel's deft handling of Waylander's...harsh personal side is sometimes dark, allways unexpected, and occasionally laced with a personal angst as well as a bit of humor. The story flows well from start to finish and the oh my! When books end these days it is all too normal to see the easy ties to another sequel, the loose ends ready to be brought to the forfront for more sequels.. Gemmel closes the book on his characters with a resounding thud and in a way that makes you want to grasp the author's hands and force him to open the book again and write more. The closing is epic, personal, and as all the books in the series, filled with emotions that sometimes catch your breath but allways leave you spellbound in the shadow of Gemmel's sheer storytelling ability. There is nothing bad to be said about the entire series of Waylander books. The character breathes, bleeds, and feels the choices he makes as scars on his heart. Read at your own risk. You will never be the same.
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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.
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on October 7, 2000
Let me start by simply saying this was a very enjoyable read. It was also the first book by David Gemmel that I have ever read. I like action in my fantasy books; killing, pillaging, and a few interesting "accidents", Gemmel delivers.
There are some well written scenes in this book that actually had me reareading sections, the opening scene comes to mind. There is plenty of action throughout the book in a pace that matches his writing style; a scene develops realtively quickly carries into the meat of an encounter and becomes calm. Its alot like river rafting, a great set of rapids to get your blood pumping and then a lull to let you calm back down before another set.
David Gemmel also manages to sneak some character development in on me, and truth to tell I didn't really mind. Perhaps my only major complaint is the cast of characters, one character in particular plays a pivotal role in the book, but he is developed almost inconsequentially as a minor character. I guess we could attribute this to his style, I have found similar examples of this in one of his other books. The book does a great job of presenting a group of diametric morals and someone trying to walk the middle ground.
Waylander is a great character, a compilation of hero and anti-hero mixed together in a confusing jumble, yet he remains identifiablely human. Some of the other characters are present, I think, so the series could be spun off. Although, none of the secondary characters have enough presence to have me rushing right out and buying their first novel.
All in all, I was most disappointed with the length of the book. It could have been longer. Of course, I would probably say the same thing if it had been twice the length, and I think that says it all, IMHO.
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on September 9, 2001
Ive read a TON of books in my life and this ranks easily in the top ten fantasy novels ive ever read. This book has it all. An awesome hero and a very twisted villian. Gemmell surpasses the other waylander novels by far.
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on December 18, 2000
Gemmell does a great job of developing characters without sacrificing pacing. He kind of cheats to do it, but since he keeps things interesting I won't complain. He piles on the exposition, but (and here's the cheat) he makes it read like an alternate narrative, tossing in a dose of action and another of dialogue. As with all exposition, the real story still stops dead, but things are usually kept so lively and engrossing that it doesn't matter. The main story doesn't even get moving until about halfway through the book, but it isn't a problem. All the little backstory developments (and this is where a lot of that exposition comes in) catch the reader and carry him along. This is partly a result of the snappy pacing, but equally due to excellent character development. In each scene, and even in the exposition, we get glimpses into what motivates the characters, what they think, what they feel. While the Gray Man could probably carry the story, he doesn't. Gemmel has created a host of compelling characters. While you may find yourself having a favorite (for me it was Yu Yu Liang) it's unlikely that you'll find yourself thinking, "I wish this part was over and he'd get back to the part about so-and-so."
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on November 2, 2000
I was excited to find another Waylander novel, and Gemmell does not disappoint. Hero is a well-written, fast-paced yarn that brings back one of Gemmell's best characters. This book is a story of redemption for a man haunted by his past. Moral conflicts abound and are handled well. As usual his heroic characters have significant character flaws which them that much more realistic. I really can't think of much to complain about. Hero is simply a very enjoyable read. His first book, "Legend", was quite good, but I think he's an even better writer today.
Sidenote: the mention of the death of 3 kings required to open the portals indicates at least a loose tie in with the novel "Winter Warriors". I think some of these characters may return in a forthcoming book.
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on January 12, 2001
In Hero in the Shadows, Waylander, the assassin hero of some of Gemmell's earlier books, is now a middle-aged man looking for peace in a world that will, for the most part, leave him alone. The crimes of his past come back to haunt him, as he finds himself responsible for a young prince whose grandfather he murdered. Then as creatures of a doomed legend come back to rule the world with blood and horror. An aging paladin, a loud-mouthed braggart whom a magic sword has chosen, and a kitchen girl who is very extraordinary must???
How does Gemmell do it ? I highly recommend this book. Two thumbs way up over here. This book was a true epic fantasy book.
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on November 26, 2015
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