Today it’s a two book tour, the first and second books in The Rigante series by David Gemmell – Sword in the Storm and Midnight Falcon. It’s also the last day of this great BlogTour.
About the Author
Published in 1984, David A. Gemmell’s first novel, Legend, has become a classic. His most recent Drenai and Rigante books are all published as Bantam Press hardcovers and Corgi paperbacks. All of his novels are Sunday Times bestsellers. Now widely regarded as one of the finest writers of heroic fantasy, David Gemmell lived in East Sussex until his death in July 2006.
Transworld Publishers are working on reissuing titles which were incredibly popular in their heyday but which have not been paid any attention in recent years, and of course David Gemmell and his books are reading material a new generation should absolutely be introduced to.
About the Sword in the Storm
Fierce and proud, the Rigante dwell deep in the green mountain lands, worshiping the gods of air and water, and the spirits of the earth. Among them lives a warrior who bears the mark of fate. Born of the storm that slew his father, he is Connavar, and tales of his courage spread like wildfire.
The Seidh–a magical race as old as time–take note of the young warrior and cast a malignant shadow across his life. For soon a merciless army will cross the water, destroying forever the timeless rhythms of life among the Rigante.
Swearing to protect his people, Connavar embarks on a quest that will take him into the heart of the enemy. Along the way, he receives a gift: a sword as powerful and deadly as the Seidh who forged it. Thus he receives a name that will strike fear into the hearts of friend and foe alike–a name proclaiming a glorious and bitter destiny . . .Demonblade.
Review of Sword in the Storm
Connavar is born under the less than auspicious warning of the raven to his father. It cements his father’s fate and simultaneously also the name of his child and his future. As Connavar grows he is confronted by rumours that his father was a coward, but his step-father stands fast in his tales in order to protect the child.
A crack in the relationship between his mother and step-father forces the boy to accept some hard truths, grows from them and it also leads him into realms of searching for a solution to his problem. The beginning of relationships, which will keep him both safe and often put him at harm.
I enjoyed the fact Connavar didn’t have to be written as a callous killer or a man driven by mistakes his father made. Instead his strength is cemented in the father figure who treats him as one of his own. This means is raised as a broken man, but rather one comfortable to engage with his destiny.
Gemmell combines wisdom, humour with creative world-building, strong characters and that essence of danger and violence, which always simmers just below the surface of heroic fantasy just waiting to explode into battle and conflict. The story is also filled with fear of folklore, myths and the very real power of the Seidh. This takes the fantasy into a realm of powers and magic that are driven by the power of the mind and also the figures that lurk waiting for opportunities to come their way. Nothing asked will be given without some kind of debt.
Gemmell was and is a brilliant storyteller, perhaps because there are no limitations to the story. It doesn’t have to fit into one particular sub-genre category, which he demonstrates by creating a multidimensional main character, who isn’t just a bloodthirsty warrior. He is a man who loves, explores, embraces the new and above all he is loyal.
About the Midnight Falcon
Bane the Bastard is the illegitimate son of the Rigante king who men called Demonblade. Born of treachery, Bane grew up an outcast in his own land, feared by his fellow highlanders, and denied by the father whose unmistakable mark he bore–the eyes of Connavar, one tawny brown, the other emerald green.
Hounded from the country of his birth, Bane found acceptance across the seas–only to have it stripped away in an instant by a cruel and deadly swordsman. Now fighting as a gladiator in the blood-soaked arenas of the Empire, Bane lives for one thing: revenge. And he pursues his goal with the same single-minded determination that won his father a crown.
But more is at stake than a young warrior’s quest for vengeance. The armies of the Stone are preparing to march on the lands of the Rigante. The fate of human and Seidh alike will be decided by the clash of swords–and by the bonds of twisted love and bitterness between a father and a son . . .
Review of Midnight Falcon
This is the second book in the Rigante series, and although this can be read as a standalone I would absolutely suggest reading the first book, Sword in the Storm. The relationship between fathers and sons from generation to generation is a definitive driver of this story.
With that being said, where Connavar was written as a boy and then man who could have been riddled with hate, self-doubt and anger – he was raised to be a strong individual, despite the mistakes his own father made. In this book his son becomes a main character, and his experience has been the complete opposite.
His father’s choices and decisions have made him a target, which in turn have made his emotions fester. There is rage, a person filled with rejection and doubt, but instead of crumbling he has become a fighter like Connavar. His anger burns the light beneath him. The light that seeks revenge at any cost.
Get ready for some hardcore betrayal in this book, perhaps unexpected to some however here and there you can see what is coming. Et tu Brute? – that should say enough.
Once again Gemmell proves why and how he has made his mark in heroic fantasy. It’s the smooth writing and dialogue, characters with depth, and the combination of great storytelling and world-building.
I liked the way he turned the character arc on its head by presenting the complete opposite to Connavar in the character of Bane. Is there more to their story than meets the eye or is it a question of the sins of the father will wreak their revenge eventually? How much of their destiny is determined by the lore and magic walking alongside them.