Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Man-book


I finished David Gemmell's Legend (1984) last night. I read Legend because Haki wanted me to, and that was enough for me. Knowing Haki enjoyed the book added lustre to many of its episodes, as I smiled to consider what my husband's reaction would have been to the part I was in.

Synopsis

The Drenai forces unite to defend their fortress against an innumerable army of Nadir. An attending legendary hero, Druss the axeman, inspires farmers and warriors alike in their last stand at the stronghold.

Things that discouraged me about this book:
  • There are a lot of characters to remember, and I know I didn't appreciate each one as much as Haki did - as he informs me almost all appear in other Gemmell works, and therefore bring with them a wealth of connotations I could not appreciate, despite Haki's assurance this was a "stand alone novel".
  • I wasn't "hooked" - a feeling I rather like to have.
  • This is a man-book, through and through. The story focuses on answering questions a male audience would ask, i.e. "But really, how far did the blood spurt?" and "Exactly how big was his sword?" Gemmell has unabashedly created women as objects and divided men as either heroes or cowards. P.S. The only woman I could respect was mannish.
Things I enjoyed:
  • Bowman; generally - This character made the book for me. From his first introduction I was taken with this fellow, and his wit and presence throughout were my greatest interest. Perhaps my favour for him is linked with his logical name - as I knew exactly who he was (Bowman = guy with the bow).
  • Strategic elements - I like to learn how the archers pace out and mark their range before the battle commences, how enemies interact and correspond, and who is selected to lead which group of soldiers, and why.
  • The exploration of character motivation - excellent. If only there were fewer characters so I could care more.
Conclusion:

I wish it was a movie...and that I saw the movie first - only because without having read all the other books, and without a soundtrack, many characters lacked depth for me, and I should have cared when they died, I'm sure, but I didn't.
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