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Publisher's Summary

The Legend

Druss, Captain of the Axe: the stories of his life were told everywhere. Instead of the wealth and fame he could have claimed, he had chosen a mountain lair, high in the lonely country bordering on the clouds. There the grizzled old warrior kept company with snow leopards and awaited his old enemy, death.

The Fortress

Mighty Dros Delnoch, protected by six outer walls, the only route by which an army could pass through the mountains. It was the stronghold of the Drenai Empire. And now it was the last battleground, for all else had fallen before the Nadir hordes.

And hope rested on the skills of that one old man....

©2011 David Gemmell (P)2017 Hachette Audio

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  • Carol
  • Massachusetts
  • 06-26-17

Two Legends Come to Audible

In the early 90’s, back when there were still bookstores to browse in, I picked up a copy of David Gemmell’s “Lion of Macedon” because I thought it was about one of my favorite historical figures, Alexander the Great. Well, it was and it wasn’t, but it was a great book and I went on to read “Legend," Gemmell’s first published book, and then pretty much everything else he wrote (which was a lot) before his premature death in 2006.

These books introduced me to heroic fantasy and led me into Guy Gavriel Kay and later G.R.R. Martin, Michael J. Sullivan, and Brandon Sanderson. The shifting POV that is prevalent in all these authors' works, the mixture of magic grounded in a world that is often recognizable (“history shifted 25% to the fantastical,” as I believe Kay has said), the many shades of gray between black and white—all these are present in Gemmell’s books, which now, finally, are coming to Audible. Hooray!

In “Legend,” the fort of Dros Delnoch stands between the Drenai civilization and devastation. It is undermanned and soon to be under siege by the “barbarian” Nadir under their leader Ulrich. The earl in command of Dros Delnoch has sent out two desperate pleas, one to “The 30,” an order of (surprise) 30 warrior monks with both physical and supernatural gifts; and a second plea to the legendary hero “Druss of the Axe.” The tales say Druss and his axe Skaga together once turned back an invading army of thousands. The earl, who was at that battle, knows it’s somewhat but not really true, but he needs someone to restore morale and stop the desertions. Now 60 years old, Druss is called upon for one more epic stand.

Once you know Gemmell admitted to a fascination with the Battle of the Alamo, the general outline of the story of the book won’t be a surprise, although its outcome might be.

Gemmell’s books are less poetic that Guy Gavriel Kay’s and (thankfully) less dismally violent than George R.R. Martin’s. In all Gemmell’s books, the underlying metaphysical battle concerns the balance between Creation (“the Source”) and Chaos, between life and destruction. There is also the Void, a gray and dismal state of stasis (purgatory?). There is a hopeful note in most of these books that I find is lacking in today's postapocalyptic fantasy.

As a first novel, “Legend” definitely has flaws, but it sets the stage for the “Drenai tales,” one of several series and a number of stand-alones the prolific Gemmell wrote. The Drenai books (I’ve listed them below) don’t have to be read in order, and the last few are, in my opinion, not all that good--along with some great stuff, Gemmell penned several 2-star stinkers. The different books take place backward and forward in Drenai history. “Legend” is the starting point, and I think it forms a rather amazing trilogy with two of the other books, which I’ve noted (it’s just my opinion, but together the three close a circle).

Tales of the Drenai:
1. Legend (1984) – Read this one FIRST.
2. The King Beyond the Gate (1985)
3. Waylander (1986)—the "wayback" story to Legend and the SECOND in my “trilogy” (but note Audible carries the French translation, so be careful ☺)
4. Quest for Lost Heroes (1990)
5. Waylander II: In the Realm of the Wolf (1992) Ya gotta read “Waylander” first!!
6. The First Chronicles of Druss the Legend (1993)
7. The Legend of Deathwalker (1996) THIRD in my “trilogy”
8. Winter Warriors (1996)
9. Hero in the Shadows (2000)
10. White Wolf (2003) (Skilganon the Damned Book 1)
11. The Swords of Night and Day (2004) (The Damned Book 2)

As for the narration of “Legend,” Sean Barrett is a fine British voice actor who keeps the energy up and the melodrama down. I’m definitely looking forward to more Gemmell, which Audible already listed on preorder.

19 of 20 people found this review helpful

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Epic campfire read.

A part of fantasy that has always appealed to me is how travelers would wander around sharing stories at campfires and taverns. History and legends would travel around just by word of mouth. This story made me feel like I was their sitting at the campfire eager to here the rest of a legend. Sean Barrett is an amazing narrator for this since he just sounds like some old warrior. This book has plenty of action and great supporting characters. I really do not know who to compare it to since I thought it was rather unique. This is also one of the few fantasy books where I actually rooted for two people that were in love. The feeling of many of the people just felt really genuine.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Excellent

Don't let the plot fool you. Although it does seem like the same old tale, unbreachable fortress against unstoppable army. You should take note of the fact that this book was written in the 80's, this tale can stand the test of time. Very well written, strong character development and superb narrator/actor. I will be searching for more of Gemmell's work, as this is my first book by him.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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More than I imagined!

I read the paperback when I was a teen (over 20 years ago) and I was delighted to re-experience this perfect story from a while new dimension. David Gemmel is easily my favorite author of all time...his perception of human nature along with his uncanny talent to keep the story's pace on edge is so freaking awesome!!! You are missed David Gemmel...so missed...
Now for the rest of his audio books!!!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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fantastic book! Sean Barrett perfection as always<br />

this book surprised me in so many ways! the action was almost nonstop, kept me, literally on the edge of my seat, hands over my mouth as I awaited an outcome.

the characters were well fleshed out had the depth, conflictions, individualities of real people. I came to love them and sobbed like a little child as they died.

The story is war, seige, 500 to 1 odds and the defenders of the fortress are grossly outnumbered and unprepared. Some soldiers, some outlaws, raw recruits consisting of farmers and bakers, but Druss the Legend pulls them together and trains them hard!

the old earl is dying and his warrior daughter finds love with a man she would never have expected to love, they marry and he becomes Earl of the fortress, fighting side by side with his wife, with Druss the Legend and with a 30 member group of warrior priests who can speak mind to mind with each other, can read the minds of anyone and see into the future.

the combination of all these components bring constant surprises! the end will blow your mind!

I think Sean Barrett's performance was magnificent!! his timing, his phrasing, his VOICE brings this book to life! If you buy no other book this month....buy this one! You will not be able to stop listening!

I rarely write reviews, but David Gemmell created something rare and wonderful in this first book of the Drenai series! Go spend your credits and read the whole series! Sean Barrett narrates the whole of it and he is perfection! So! stop reading this review and go buy this book! you'll be hooked!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Legend

Is legendary. Loved the book when I read it as a youngster. Loved listening to it as an adult decades later. Well narrated. I could see the siege as i imagined it, once again.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Amazing story and what a voice!

Any additional comments?

I've always loved these books and to hear it read by someone with such an amazing voice was such a treat.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Legendary

Always been a favorire of mine read ir years ago. when i saw it on audible I was excited tp listen . they did a great job

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

David Gemmell finally on Audible!!

If you are a reader, in your life certain books carry weight and stick to the grey matter inside of your head long after you lay down the book. After you read them, switches turn inside of your head and your outlook on the world changes.

David Gemmell writes just like that and the audible version seems to carry the cadence and impact of the written book. Buy it and hold on.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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An epic that stands the test of time

Legend isn't the best book, it's not perfect and its not life changing at all. But it is keystone in fantasy and has all the ingredients you need to cook up a great fantasy story. Gemmell is a legend and this book is testament to his work and love for the craft. Any fantasy fan who doesn't shy away from the darker side should endeavour to tick this tale off the list. Narration is very well suited to the tone of the story and range is ample for the characters.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Simon
  • 06-26-17

Legends and Sagas!

These books have achieved near legendary status in my mind from when I read them decades ago in my formative years. They are pretty much classics of the genre albeit rather different in structure from other fantasy series that I experienced. Rather than being a single story split over a number of parts they are rather more like the Norse sagas with stories separated by generations within the same overall milieu. They reflect some of the naiveté prevalent in the genre at the time. You won't find Abercrombie's complex characters here, this is straight-up bite-yer-bum fantasy with heroic deeds and figures – in the best possible way of course.

This particular saga is centred around the legend that is Druss of the Axe, also known as, among other things “Deathwalker”. This grizzled veteran is a warrior of the hugest renown and when he is called upon to defend a mighty fortress against all the odds a fantastic siege results. His opponent, Ulric of the Nadir is very much Gemmell’s Genghis Khan figure. It’s a heady mix of military fantasy with a fair amount of magical mayhem and mysterious shamen all mixed in. While it does have a relatively simple approach it is seriously compelling stuff and I thoroughly enjoyed myself reliving it and will no doubt devour them all once more.

As for the narration, I have spent quite some time in Sean Barrett’s company, most recently with the Angus Watson books. Listening to this my respect for the man went up another notch. The Watson books see a much more contemporary approach to fantasy with the characters providing much mirth as well as excitement and intrigue. Barrett delivers that in great style but it would be very wrong to apply the same treatment to Druss Deathwalker! Barrett approaches this with a much sterner gravitas reflecting the granite of the character himself which elevates the book to another level.

At the end there is a brief afterword written by Stella Gemmell. It is fascinating to hear how the book came about and in particular how the ending was decided. If, like I was, you aren’t already aware of some of the background about the characters and the development of the story it makes for interesting listening.

So, a fine package and one I enjoyed tremendously. I regard these books as classical in terms of modern fantasy writing so maybe some of the sophistication of more recent authors is missing. Regardless, they are quite simply great stories and entertainment from one of the original masters of the craft.

24 of 27 people found this review helpful

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  • Sam
  • 07-20-17

The first book I ever read made into audio

The book that captured my imagination was once again new to me all these years later. The narration is perfect, the story flowing the characters vivid. I had some real moments with this book. Cannot recommend this enough.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Sean
  • 06-26-17

download it

if you like anything like game of Thornes or lord of the rings your going to like it.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Johnny
  • 06-26-17

Legend

David Gemmell and Barrett absolutely gold...

Growing up in my teens and early 20s are used to wait anticipated the next book of David when I found out he died I was truly upset his books taught me how to love books

I didn't know him but I miss him and have always tried to find writer to replace him which is impossible

Thanks for the adventures


8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Chriswarburton
  • 09-06-17

stunning audio book

I have loved this book for years, and this takes it to another level. outstanding.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • JC
  • 08-29-17

As good as I remember

I first read this book back in the ‘80s when I was at University. The Audiobook version has been like listening to an old friend retelling an old favourite. Gemmell’s characters are real, and you find yourself fully immersed within minutes. The narration is excellent, conveying content and emotion, and perfectly suited to the tale.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Dwiver
  • 07-14-17

Legendary

Everyone who loves the fantasy genre knows the name Druss. About two years ago I emailed audible to see if they would record the David Gemmell's books. I got a reply to say that they had no plans to. I was disappointed but it did get me thinking about who would read them and how vital a good narrator would be. This performance is everything I had hoped for and only enhances an already great story. I would strongly recommend this audio book to anyone who loves fantasy.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Ian
  • 06-24-17

Well worth the wait

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes this was the start of my journey through gemmells work and I want others to start on the path

What was one of the most memorable moments of Legend?

WALL FOUR I have heard complete strangers say " I hope this isn't my wall four" it had left a strong impression on them

Have you listened to any of Sean Barrett’s other performances? How does this one compare?

I have other books read by Sean he can create a narrative with the tone of his voice

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Any thing around 10hrs gets one sitting but this I would cancell other stuff to finish

Any additional comments?

Just surprised it's take so long to get on audible

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Martha Alice Wolfgang
  • 07-29-17

Five star story

At long last Audible have discovered the genius of David Gemmell and I am ecstatic to be able to listen to his totally engaging stories in this format. The narrator delivers the story with great depth of feeling; one of the best narrators I've ever listened to and indeed one of the world's top notch author's. I can't wait to start the next book as Sean Barrett is narrating all of David Gemmell's brilliant books. As I write only a few have been released with more due out in the future, something truly lovely to look forward to. I won't go into the material of the story in case I spoil it for anyone, suffice it to say think of Helms Deep with far more elevated themes. It is one riveting read.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • mollyeyre
  • 12-29-17

2nd time to try posting review

This is the first of David Gemmell's fantasy books that I have read, I was lured by my experience with his two stand alone novels.
This probably isn't my type of book, but even so I found it was excellently written with real life characters, and I really did enjoy it. There was a lot of action and the characters were well developed with real personalities. I do find that if I can relate to the people in the book I am more likely to enjoy the story.
Sean Barrett was brilliant in this story, he rarely disappoints.
I might be tempted to try the second in the series, but not immediately.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Jeremy Spencer
  • 07-06-17

Gennel we will miss you

Wow, how great it was to hear a book I have loved for so long. Can't recommend Gemmell books enough. Thrilled to have audible doing them at last.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • JimBob
  • 07-05-17

best saga ever

one of the few stories I reread every few years, and now I can listen to it when ever I want.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Ross
  • 06-25-17

Fantastic

I read this book as a young teenager and could not get enough of the story of heroism of men you doubted themselves but still tried to the occasion.
When I saw that the book was out in audio I bought it with some trepidation as it had been 15 or So years since I had read this books and was scared that it would not live up to an adult version of myself, All I can say get this book the is if anything better than I remember well read and had me riveted

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-31-17

The Legend

Having read Legend almost 15 years ago and falling in love with the works of Gemmell I was a little hesitant about listening to the audio book afraid I suppose that it could not give justice to the story I have read and reread so many time. I'm glad I gave it to ago as it brought to life the story and characters and I would recommend this audiobook to anyone. If you are already a fan of the book enjoy the adventure once more, if you are new then I am jealous that you have the chance to read of Druss for the first time, to meet and I assure you befriend Rek and Virae or find yourself in one of the many characters as I did with Orrin. Anyway enough said. Buy, Listen, Enjoy

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Johnathan
  • 08-29-17

Amazing! !!

I love this story! so happy that DG stories finally on audible !! thank you thank you thank you! ! 😊😊

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-09-18

Fantastic Book

One of the best novels I have read!!
David Gemmell is the best fantasy author ever.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-18-18

Classic!

Narrator is fantastic. Does the characters well and easy to listen to. Story is fantastic. I love Gemmel's settings with their low magic/monster settings and focus on warrior heroes.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-08-17

very enjoyable, great narration

a story of battle and glory, two things I don't believe in however still somehow thoroughly enjoyed.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-04-17

wel crafted story

character development is slow but excellent. fully developed world by the end. i was left satisfied with the ending and hoping for a second book.