Article,  Book Corner,  Fantasy

The Characters of David Gemmell

A sword standing upright in a field.

David Gemmell was a writer.

He didn’t make interwoven, highly intricate plots. He didn’t take you on a detailed epic tour of the world he created. He didn’t wow you with artistic linguistics requiring a dictionary to be at hand. Usually, he didn’t even write long books.

David Gemmell was a great writer.

He does sit us around an imaginary campfire with imaginary sausages at the end of imaginary sticks. He does put imaginary blankets over our imaginary knees to keep us warm beneath an imaginary starry night. He does let us imagine leaning in close to those flickering flames, huddling together against the darkest of imaginary nights as he tells us a story.

David Gemmell was a fantasy writer.

He typically wrote high fantasy, narrowing in on heroic fantasy, swords and sorcery, with minimal sorcery but many swords, although some got an axe, or a bow, everybody gets some kind of a weapon anyway, while most didn’t get the sorcery.

David Gemmell was a great fantasy writer.

The action just keeps the pages turning. There are no boring parts to a David Gemmell book.

David Gemmell’s characters have character.

His characters don’t just progress the plot. His characters have conversations, they have flaws and make mistakes, they have moral dilemmas and moments of weakness, they can be ugly or simple, they can have personality issues or illnesses. There are no squeaky clean, sparkly souled, handsome heroes in his books (well, there might be one but his other personality is an ugly psychotic maniac so I don’t think he counts).

Admittedly, as critics have criticised, Gemmell’s heroes are all quite macho but they live in a harsh world (his worlds are based quite heavily on ancient celtic culture and mythology), are often swinging weapons around and killing people, so they would have to be. The women in his stories don’t tend to be any less lethal which balances things out quite nicely. Ok, ok, I admit it! I do like a mostly good but not squeaky clean macho man for my main hero. It is fantasy after all 😛

My favourite characters are perhaps those in Winter Warriors, old men at the end of their years yet no less heroic. My husband likes Skilgannon the Damned – the guy has two swords, always better than just one! My friend likes Druss – he carries a big axe and likes to punch people.

If you like fantasy and want to just read a really great story read a David Gemmell book, I recommend it wholeheartedly.

Someone said “Happiness is finding a great author and discovering they wrote 12 more books.”

David Gemmell wrote 30 – such joy!


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