Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Swords of Night and Day - Review of D. Gemmell's Book

The Swords of Night and Day (Drenai Tales, #11)The Swords of Night and Day by David Gemmell
S.E. Lindberg's rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Swords of Night and Day is just okay. Given the amount of material Gemmell had to work with, this book falls flat but is still somewhat enjoyable. It merely recaps events explained in the previous books, but in a confusing way. Having read and enjoyed Gemmell's books (i.e. Legend, White Wolf, The King Beyond the Gate) I was anxious to delve into another. However, it does not add much to the series.  Fans of the series will enjoy it, otherwise it is not highly recommended.

- The Drenai series spans eleven books, though it really is several mini-series with connections to the same land. In this case, "Swords of Night and Day" is a sequel to "White Wolf" in which Skilganon was introduced; this book explores the magic/technology of resurrecting him (and other heros and villains). Although the magic/technology of resurrection is loosely explored, it is done inconsistently. One moment, these powers are causing everyone to have cancer and become mutated, the next moment the powers are healing people and allowing them to live indefinitely. I am okay with unharnessed powers doing uncontrollable things, but here the powers are told to be controlled… then shown to be uncontrolled for select people.

- Despite their rebirth, the characters and motivations are not developed what so ever. I would have hoped to learn more about Skilganon, Jianna, etc.

- The book has nothing to do with the titular “Swords of Night and Day”, other than the fact that their owner is a key character; nothing about the demons inside the blade, the weapon's history, its creation, etc. are explored. In fact, the book has several cool powerful items re-emerge from ancient history, but then they are not really used. Seriously, the Armor of Bronze marks a guy as a leader, which elevates his power over a regiment of humans, but it really doesn't do much. One may expect that the armor be magically protective, or impart some supernatural strength to those who wear it--not here.

- Many contrived scenes exist that just appear odd. These instances fail to ratchet up the tension and could have been handled much more smoothly and convincingly.
(1) In one case, the hero mysteriously detects “undetectable” wraiths approaching...has 30min or so to prepare for the fight???...decides to leave the group he is supposed to protect so he can fight the wraiths… but he doesn't actually know where the enemy is (even though he could detect them???) so he goes to a random location to get ready (so the weaker folk are now vulnerable)...then the shadow creatures find him... but our invincible hero begins to lose the battle… until his less-capable party finds and rescue him???. Why not have the wraiths just attack the group directly?
(2) In another case, a women Askari learns her village has been destroyed, and her response is to do nothing emotional... but immediately seduce the man who failed to protect it (and the language is lighthearted…the man calling his wolf-like friends silly rascals as they try to watch).
(3) Stavi spends 250pages building a special pack of warrior creatures, helps them join ranks with the human Legion who is afraid of said creatures (they all join a single “pack” and have a mini ceremony), drags his land-lubber pack many miles on barges to do battle because “the creatures want to fight with him”... then when the battle starts, he dismisses them, commanding them to "go hunt and be free" ??? ... so his pack does leave … but guess what? surprise … they come back to fight.

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