Tag Archives: David Gemmell

New Anthology – Legends II – Stories in Honour of David Gemmell

Many thanks to Ian Whates for inviting me to contribute a story to the upcoming anthology Legends II – Stories in Honour of David Gemmell – which is published in support of the David Gemmell Awards. As long time readers will know I’m a huge fan of David Gemmell’s work (see my post from two years ago here), so it was a big thrill to be included amongst such an impressive list of authors keen to honour a master of the genre.

Legends II

Full description:

Determined warriors, hideous creatures, wicked sorceries, tricksy villains and cunning lovers abound as fantasy’s finest imaginations do their best and their worst…

In November 2013, NewCon Press released Legends: Stories in Honour of David Gemmell. We are now delighted to unveil a second volume of original stories from some of the world’s leading fantasy authors written in honour of one of the genre’s greats. As before, Legends II will act in part as a fundraiser for the David Gemmell Awards.

1. Introduction – Stan Nicholls
2. The Blessed and the Cursed – Gav Thorpe
3. A Rescue – Mark Lawrence
4. The Lowest Place – Edward Cox
5. The Giant’s Lady – Rowena Cory Daniels
6. An Oath Given – John Gwynne
7. The Singer – Stella Gemmell
8. Sandrunners – Anthony Ryan
9. Smokestack Lightning – Gavin Smith
10. Oak – Lou Morgan
11. An Owl in Moonlight – Freda Warrington
12. Heaven of Animals – John Hornor Jacobs
13. The Iron Wolves: Retribution – Andy Remic
14. About the Authors

Legends II is released on August 3rd 2015. You can pre-order the paperback or limited edition signed hardcover at Spacewitch.com.

Ebook pre-orders can be found here:



Last 30 Days’ Book Recommendations

For those who don’t follow me on Twitter, on 23rd August I set myself the task of recommending a book a day until Christmas along with a short review on Goodreads. Here’s the list for the last 30 days for anyone who missed it:

Hyperion by Dan Simmons – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/245223816

The Darkness that Comes Before by R. Scott Bakker – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/324718560

Speaks the Nightbird by Robert McCammon – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1035991441

Lord of the Silver Bow by David Gemmell – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1036810587

Crossed by Garth Ennis – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1037745731

The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/725036643

All Hell Let Loose by Max Hastings – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/717366050

Vurt by Jeff Noon – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1040358888

Watching War Films with My Dad by Al Murray – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/918121939

Broken Angels by Richard Morgan – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/245223698

The Thousand Names by Django Wexler – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1043204778

The Reality Dysfunction by Peter F Hamilton – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1044115670

The Dead Zone by Stephen King – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/245223368

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/245223551

An Animated Life by Ray Harryhausen – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1047059554

Robin Ince’s Bad Book Club by Robin Ince – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/396745389

The Big Nowhere by James Ellroy – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/987382048

Icon by Frank Frazetta – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1050037194

Neuromancer by William Gibson – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/245223673

Use of Weapons Iain M Banks – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/245223648

Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1052797420

Dune by Frank herbert – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/245223544

Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/245224264

A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1055394174

The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1036354909

Voyage by Stephen Baxter – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1057330544

War of the Aeronauts by Charles M. Evans – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/711370188

Dark Fire by CJ Sansom – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1058921216

The Scar by China Mieville – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1059845898

The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander – https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1060416159

Barnes & Noble Website – Guest Post

I wrote a short article for the Barnes & Noble website on four great books with unhappy endings. Read it here: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/review/anthony-ryan/

My First Audio Interview – Fantasy Faction

Thanks to Spencer Wightman at Fantasy Faction for hosting my first audio interview. I think it went well, ranging from my eternal love for David Gemmell to my varied history obsessions, even if I got a bit rambly at times. Enjoy.


Orbit Website Guest Post: David Gemmell and the Depiction of the Hero

Thanks to the good folks at Orbit UK for hosting my guest post on David Gemmell and the Depiction of the Hero.

Fantasy Book Critic Guest Post

Thanks to the fine folks as FBC for hosting my guest post on the influence of history on epic fantasy, which can be read here:



SFF Mania Interview

Thanks to Chris W at SFF Mania for hosting my lastest interview, you can read it here:


And, just for the record, I’m not an MI6 ninja.

Stuff I Like: the Works of David Gemmell

Once upon a time a lonely nineteen year-old, recently moved to a grimy and unforgiving London, walked into a sci-fi bookshop and picked up a copy of Wolf in Shadow by David Gemmell. Twenty years later that nineteen year-old, increasingly rich in body weight and increasingly poor in hair, is the proud owner of every Gemmell book published and deeply sorry there won’t be any more.

David Gemmell was a former journalist turned fantasy author who penned 33 books, acquiring a global legion of fans and the distinction of having reinvented the genre of heroic fantasy. Beginning with Legend in 1984 Gemmell’s books were fast-paced tales of conflicted and often deeply flawed heroes usually engaged in seemingly unwinnable battles against impossible odds. In Legend we find aging but still mighty axe-wielder Druss and a motley band of cohorts attempting to hold back the tide of the Mongol-esque Nadir at the multi-tiered fortress of Dros Delnoch. The world of Legend, explored in subsequent books under the umbrella of Drenai Tales, contains many staples of heroic fantasy such as magic, quests and a cod-medieval social structure, but can also be read as an alternative history of Europe during the Mongol invasions. This willingness to borrow from history would be a continuing theme throughout much of Gemmell’s work, most notably in his Rigante saga, essentially an alternative history of Celtic Britain from the time of the Romans to the rise of Oliver Cromwell.

Whilst history and fantasy literature are obvious influences on Gemmell he was also clearly a fan of the western, as displayed in Knights of Dark Renown, a tale of chivalric heroism versus vampiric evil which owes as much to the Magnificent Seven as it does to Mallory or Stoker. However, Gemmell’s most effective exploration of western themes is to be found in Wolf in Shadow, the story of post-apocalyptic gunslinger Jon Shannow. Dubbed the Jerusalem Man due to his obsessive quest for the now fabled biblical city where he imagines he will find peace after a lifetime of violence, Shannow ranges across a future earth where geological upheaval has reversed the position of the world’s oceans. Shannow is a gun for hire isolated by his fearsome abilities with the antique six-shooters he carries, cleansing settlements of marauding outlaws before being politely asked to move on. However, the advent of the Hellborn, an army of Satan-worshippers intent on conquest and human sacrifice, places Shannow at the forefront in the war of salvation, rediscovering his humanity in the process. Distinguished by a wonderfully sombre ending, Wolf in Shadow is, in my opinion, Gemmell’s finest book, diminished only by a couple of unnecessary sequels.

But it was in the world of Greek history and legend that Gemmell was to find his greatest critical and commercial success. In Lion of Macedon Gemmell explored the Peloponnesian war between Sparta and Athens through the eyes of real-life historical figure Parmenion, destined to become chief general to Alexander the Great. Gemmell apparently intended to write a purely historical novel but was persuaded by his publisher to include some fantasy elements as a sop to loyal readers, such as the magical sipstrassi stones that first appear in Wolf in Shadow, as do the immortal survivors of fabled Atlantis. Whilst this could be seen as a flaw in an otherwise fine example of historical fiction it did form a basis for the follow-up Dark Prince, a rich blend of history and fantasy that offers a magical explanation for the often capricious nature of Alexander the Great.

It was in the world of Greek myth that Gemmell’s work found a new level of popularity. Lord of the Silver Bow, the first in a trilogy taking a realist approach to the legendary war between Greece and Troy, garnered positive critical acclaim as well as a much wider readership. The works of Stephen Pressfield and Bernard Cornwell, amongst others, had engendered a renaissance in martially inspired historical fiction and stoked a popular appetite for more. Placing Aenais, Trojan hero and legendary founder of Rome, at the centre of the narrative, Gemmell drew on serious scholarship to paint a convincing picture of an ancient eastern-Mediterranean world torn by a trade war between two regional superpowers. In this decidedly non-Homeric version of events, the gods are invisible, the supernatural makes only a brief appearance and Helen of Troy is a minor princess of little consequence. Instead we are presented with a brutal world of clan loyalties and blood feuds where atrocity is countered with atrocity. Aenais is more noble but no less ruthless than his enemies the Mykenes, and the imperially ambitious Trojans under the loathsome and lecherous Priam are scarcely more deserving of admiration. Despite the brutality inherent in the situation Gemmell manages to find humanity amongst the bloodshed, with bisexual priestess Andromacche the compassionate counter-point to an unfolding Balkan war which has more in common with 1990s Bosnia than the bloody spectacle of Frank Miller’s 300.

Lord of the Silver Bow was followed by the equally impressive Shield of Thunder which relates the gradual descent into all-out war between Troy and Mykene. Gemmell had begun work on the final volume The Fall of Kings in 2006 when he died aged 58. The book was completed by his widow Stella, with the aid of Gemmell’s notes, and stands as a fine conclusion to a series that would most probably have propelled him to the first rank of popular authors. His death was a great loss to those of us who love a good story well told but his books are as fine a testament as any author could wish.