David Gemmell... Legend.

David Gemmell he died thirteen years ago, on the morning of July 28, 2006 in his home in Hastings, England, following post-operative complications (and a lifestyle that is not exactly healthy).

It is amazing how very often we remember great authors at the moment of their death, as if that moment amplified the scope of their work. With him we are not outdone and not even out of place. Even the Eroi they remain very often impressed by their glorious deaths, from Achilles a Tony "Hombre de Hierro" Stark, this is the right way to pay homage to David Gemmell, as all his work is studded with the epic deaths of his "heroes".

But before reaching the fatal hour, perhaps it is better to take a step back and see the path that the hero has traveled.

Biography of Gemmell

David Gemmell was born in London in 1948, his childhood was not the simplest, the son of a single mother and a victim of bullying. He was more inclined to reading, in fact he felt a veneration for "The Hobbit"By Tolkien and for medieval history,"would sacrifice anything"Just to be at the side of Harold II during the battle of Hastings, which to fight. He lived in constant fear of his tormentors and suffered from recurring nightmares of vampires who visited him while he slept to suck his blood.

The important turning point in Gemmell's life came with meeting the one who would become her future stepfather, William 'Bill' Woodford. At the age of six, after yet another assault, David reacted by hitting his attacker, but the latter's father pursued him. As soon as he reached him, however, Bill made his appearance throwing the man against the wall.

In a low voice, in a cold tone that showed no emotion, [Bill] asked. 'You know me?'

The man was shaking. Even the boy [Gemmell always talked about himself in the third person NdA] could feel the terrible fear emanating from him.

'C-sure, I know who you are, Bill. Of course yes.'

'Did you know I was dating this boy's mother?'

'Jesus Christ… I swear not, Bill. About my mother's life. '

'Now you know.'

The big man let go of the little man, who slid along the wall, trying to recover and stumbled as he walked away. Then the giant bent over the boy and held out a hand that seemed larger than a bunch of bananas. 'Better go home, son,' he said.

The world changed that day.

David Gemmell

Bully, father of a bully, finished bullied. If this is not karma ...

For Gemmell, his stepfather represented a "refuge" it's a "safe harbor”During his childhood. Bill freed the boy from his nightmares, telling him that one night he broke the neck of one of the vampires who bothered him. In the following years, he forced David to box and learn to defend himself without "hide behind the walls or run away". This philosophy influenced much of Gemmell's writing and Bill became the inspiration for druss, Jaim Grymauch and many other characters.

The following years were marked by several arrests, expulsion from school at the age of sixteen for having organized a gambling network. He worked as a factory worker, truck driver and bouncer, but never had to use hard manners to calm customers, preferring instead to use his gab ('silvertongue').

Journalistic career and passion for writing by Gemmell

Gemmell's career as a journalist began at the insistence of his mother. Of 100 candidates for a position in a local newspaper, he was probably the least qualified for the position, but he was hired anyway because his arrogance was mistaken for self-confidence.

It was during this time that his passion for writing began, but without much success. In 1976, following a diagnosis of cancer, Gemmell, to take his mind off the disease, began writing a novel. "The siege of Dros Delnoch”Was completed in just two weeks. The story centered on the defense of a fortress by a small number of defenders against the attack of an immense horde of barbarians, a metaphor for their situation. He intentionally left the ending open, awaiting the results of his test, before deciding whether the fortress would stand or fall.

Cancer turned out to be an incorrect diagnosis, Gemmell then left the book on the back burner. Four years later, on the encouragement of a friend who had read the manuscript, Gemmell began to perfect it, a process that lasted about a year. In late 1982 the manuscript was accepted by the Century Hutchinson and published in 1984 with the title "Legend” (“The legend of the Drenai"). For Gemmell, "Legend“, Has always remained the favorite of all his novels.

Legend has all the flaws you expect in a first novel, but he has a heart that could not be improved by improving his style. I am as proud of that book as I am of everything I have done in my life.

David Gemmell
The cover of the first, great Gemmell classic, Legend, The legend of the Drenai
The first, great, classic from Gemmell. Druss is never too far from his Snaga ax

During his writing career, which continued until his death, Gemmell published 32 novels and sold over one million copies worldwide.

Themes in Gemmell's work

Most of his novels fall into the vein ofheroic fantasythe sword and sorcery, among whose greatest authors ever, Gemmell is rightly counted. We like to imagine him in good company in the Halls of Heroes together with KING Howard, F. Leiber, CA Smith, KE Wagner and other. Even in his most historical novels (The cycle of Ancient Greece e The Trojan War) several typical aspects of this vein appear.

The three covers refer to the Trojan War. A Greek helmet, the long Mycenaean ships and the Horse
The Trojan War trilogy, pure ἕπος!

Gemmell's favorite themes are already all present in "Legend".

The siege

Whether it is a fortress, a city, a wall, a cave, where few fight against many, there Gemmell's pen has left its mark. After all, the impact that the disease had echoes throughout the work gemelliana, with the imposing six walls of Dross Delnoch up to the inevitable confrontation with the Trojan war, where the city itself becomes the archetype of the concept of siege.

The walls of Dross Delnoch imagined by Gemmell
The mighty six walls of Dros Delnoch

The heroes" by David Gemmell

Gemmell's characters don't see everything in black and white, they live in shades of gray (whatever I say druss), such as Waylander the Assassin. There is no clear distinction between good and evil, there are characters visibly inclined to selfishness and oppression, but who are capable of acts of incredible courage that make them re-evaluate, Durmast during the search for Bronze armor, the brigand groundsel o Skilgannon the Damned.

The cover portrays Skilgannon the Damned with the demonic Swords of Day and Night
The Damned with the demonic Swords of Day and Night

Old age

Since his first novel, with the presentation of druss, an old warrior who has seen 70 winters, it is clear that old age is the greatest enemy of heroes, but she takes hold of bodies and minds only if she is allowed to. druss he is a god of war, mountains break and armies are defeated when he is there, Bison in "Winter Warriors” (“Winter Warriors“) Does not feel old at all, and it demonstrates it all the way, as well as Jaim Grymauch o Furia Gladiator.

A depiction of the character of David Gemmell Druss the Legend with his Snaga ax
Druss the Legend, the Captain of the Ax, Druss the Sending, the Man with the Ax, the Silvery Assassin, Walking Death

The sacrifice for David Gemmell

Many of the characters, some primary and some secondary, go to the extreme sacrifice. That they are forced to fight against demons like Dagorian, against his own compatriots as Argurio, or because something unimaginable will arise from one's sacrifice, as for Nuada Silver Hand, they will die because they have to! Buying time for comrades, saving an innocent, preventing the advance of the enemy forces, sacrifice is the price that the heroes willingly pay!

The company

The heroes are never alone, it is through the friendship that is established between two or more characters that we understand them better, especially if they are poles apart as druss e Sieben Language of Silver, Banocles e Calliades. But not only friendship, also the need that binds perfect strangers, but with the passing of the chapters it turns into something more, up to the inevitable and heartbreaking sacrifice of someone, as for the Knights of Bad Fame ( "Knights of Dark Renown"/"The Knights of the Gabalas").

The image refers to a knight in charge
The Knights of Bad Fame, you will love them until you cry

Intelligence, subterfuge, witty mottos.

Heroes are not only used for brute force. Sieben Language of Silver, the poet capable of convincing you that the sea is actually made of sand, Waylanders the murderer which is hidden in the shadows, Odysseus the Ugly King, capable of enchanting you with its stories.



I hope that, if you didn't know Gemmell, now a little curiosity about his work has grown, and if you knew him that you enjoyed this short trip in memoriam.

There are many other important aspects in Gemmell's novels, impossible to analyze here unless you go through book by book, so I ask you, which aspects or which books or which characters would you like to be explored?