This is the last of the David Gemmell novels I bought at the Bookfest.
This is the first in his “Rigante” series which, among other things, was an attempt by Gemmell to step outside the constraints of his previous novels, particularly the Drenai series. So, he is trying here to slow down, be more descriptive, take his time, and build a world.
It works, sure, because the surroundings of the story is better – the world is more developed, smaller characters have more personality, there is a sense of history and weight to things.
But it doesn’t work, too, and that’s because everything and everyone in his novels are subservient to plot. A character dies because plot. A character betrays because plot. A character wakes up in the middle of the night and enters the forest because plot. A character dances because plot. Nothing happens because any of the characters want to do anything – it’s all plot.
And, really, the plot isn’t particularly engaging or difficult or subtle. It’s straightforward. And that’s fine, but when you spend nearly 500 pages devoting yourself to plot, and having everything revolve around it, then it needs to be a bit more exciting than a young fellow goes away, learns stuff, and comes back, and along the way people die. Doesn’t it?
The problem as I see these types of novels (fantasy, I suppose, if I wish to tar an entire genre (I don’t, but I will)) is that if all you are going to rely on is plot, and you can’t create a good plot, then the joints, the nails, the drapes, are all too visible for anyone who has read, well, anything else. Nothing is surprising because characters act exactly as you would expect, or if they don’t, then they act in the complete and total opposite to what you’d expect – and then you start to expect that. It’s a shame, because the sweep of these novels can sometimes pull the reader along, but for that to happen they need first to situate themselves in a world that is believable in and of itself. I don’t mean I need to believe in magic. I need to believe that your world is true to itself.
And too often they are not.
The Books, Read page contains a list of all of the books I have read this year.