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A Writer Reviewing Books: Quest for Lost Heroes by David Gemmell
The Writer’s Voice: Epic
On a scale of ‘I couldn’t put it down’: Epic… Errr… I mean I couldn’t put it down. This one took me about three days, and that is about as fast as I read anything.
This actually probably the third or fourth time that I’ve read this book, but it’s been several years. In truth, I’ve read everything that David Gemmell published in his life, and I pretty much love them all. Quest for Lost Heroes has always been among my favorite of his works.
If there is one thing that David Gemmell was the master of, it was creating brilliant characters. None of his heroes are ever cardboard cut outs. They are real people. Well, no, okay, so they aren’t actual real people, but you know what I mean! Four of the main players in Quest for Lost Heroes are aging warriors that are the legendary Heroes of Bel-Azar. To keep it simple, they are renowned as the heroes of a great battle, but have been pretty much forgotten. When the story opens Chareos the Blademaster is living as a monk, training some rich dudes’ kids how to sword fight, and basically trying to find his own internal peace. Beltzer the Axeman is a giant drunken bafoon that once ‘climbed the mountain’ and now is struggling with living as a worthless nobody. The bowmen Maggrig and Finn are off hiding in the mountains alone. Throughout the course of the story, you really get to delve into the lives and views of each of these characters, particularly as they interact with the young Niall and agree to help him on his journey.
Don’t get the wrong idea; it’s not just a story about a bunch of old men fighting their personal demons. With Gemmell it’s never that simple. This book explores a lot of human emotion all while interweaving action and intrigue. Love, hate, friendship, the naivety of the young, the bitterness of the old, the bond between father and son, the vileness and goodness of man, and so on. Also, there are real demons in it too.
It’s not really fair to give this story a simple summary, but I guess I will anyway… Basically, a poor dumb kid is trying to track down a girl he’s been in love with since childhood. She’s been kidnapped by outlaws and is hauled away to be sold as a slave in the barbarian lands of the Nadir. Despite his better judgment, Chareos the Blademaster agrees to accompany him, and along the way they meet up his old friends. Naturally, they agree to join the quest as well. It’s really much more complex than that. The actions of the small group may impact the entire world, they just don’t really know it.
If there is one thing that David Gemmell was the master of… Wait did I already say that? Anyway, it’s endings. Quest for Lost Heroes has one best endings of any book I’ve read. It’s one of those endings you have to re-read just to make sure you caught every last glorious nibble, then you sit there and stare at the wall for a while. Seriously, it’s that good.
If you are wondering if I’m biased toward the work of David Gemmell, the answer is yes. David Gemmell has been my favorite author since I was a teenager, and that isn’t likely to change any time soon. In fact, David Gemmell’s stories were highly influential in making me want to be a writer myself. If not for reading Legend when I was in my teens, that dream may have never cultivated. If I haven’t convinced you to read this book, try one of his others. They are all pretty amazing. In fact, when I’m in a funk with my own writing, or I just need some inspiration, David Gemmell books are where I normally go first. I might run through Legend, a Waylander book, a Jon Shannow book, or even something a little more random like Mornning Star or The Lion of Macedon.
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About the Reviewer...
Phillip Drayer Duncan is the author of 4 published novels and 12 short stories. He has work published with Yard Dog Press, Pro Se Productions, and Seventh Star Press.