Even in death, Skilgannon the Damned's name lives on. Now, as an ancient evil threatens the Drenai heartlands, he returns. A thousand years after they fell in battle, two heroes -- Druss and Skilgannon -- are revered throughout the war-torn lands of the Drenai where men and women live in abject fear of the Joinings, abominable meldings of man and beast, and of their mistress the dark sorceress known as the Eternal. None can stave off these ruthless foes. But what if the soul of a hero could be called back from the void, his bones housed again in flesh An ancient prophecy foretold that Skilgannon would return in his people's darkest hour. To most, this is a foolish hope, but not so to Landis Kan. For years Kan searched for the tomb of Skilgannon the Damned. And at last, he found it, gathered up the bones and performed the mystic ritual. But the reborn hero is an enigma; a young man whose warrior skills are blunted and whose memories are fragmented.
In this engrossing science fantasy, the latest in British author Gemmell's long-running Drenai series (White Wolf, etc.), 1,000 years have passed since the age of the heroic sword fighter, Skilgannon. A priestly class has reawakened ancient technology that allows them to prolong life indefinitely, create lycanthropic man-beast combinations called Jiamads and fashion magical weapons such as the two legendary blades Skilgannon once carried, the Swords of Night and Day. The greatest of the priests, Landis Khan, brings Skilgannon back to life in order to fight against the arrayed armies of another of Landis's resurrections, the empress Eternal aka Queen Jianna, Skilgannon's former lover and nemesis. Druss the Legend, the ax-fighter friend of Skilgannon from the past, has also been brought back in body. Skilgannon and Harad, the clone of Druss, join forces with Askari, a clone of Jianna, and various temporal locals, in a fight against the Eternal's Mongol-like hordes of were-creatures and ravaging soldiers. Though the story brims with standard swordplay and unremarkable battle sequences, the puzzling out of what a possessed sword might actually be (a nanotech-based artificial intelligence ), or how resurrection works (bio-engineered cloning ) provides delightful diversion and should make this one popular with idea-starved fantasy readers. (Mar. 30) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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March 01, 2005
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Excerpt from The Swords of Night and Day by David Gemmell
First there was darkness, complete and absolute. No sounds to disconcert him, no conscious thoughts to concern him. Then came awareness of darkness and everything changed. He felt a pressure against his back and legs, and a gentle thudding in his chest. Fear touched him.
Why am I in the dark? In that instant a bright, powerful image filled his mind.
A man snarling with hatred, leaping at him, spear raised. The face disappeared in a spray of crimson as a sword blade half severed the skull. More warriors attacked him. There was no escape.
His body jerked spasmodically, his eyes flaring open. There were no painted warriors, no screaming enemies yearning for his death. Instead he found himself lying in a soft bed and staring up at an ornate ceiling, high and domed. He blinked and took a deep breath, his lungs filling with air. The sensation was exquisite--and somehow unnatural.
Confused, the man sat up and rubbed at his eyes. Sunshine was streaming through a high, arched opening to his right. It was so bright and painful that he raised his arm to shield his eyes from the brilliance. Then he saw the dark blue tattoo upon his left forearm. It was of a spider, and both ugly and threatening. His eyes adjusting to the brightness, he stood and padded naked across the room. A cool breeze rippled against his skin, causing him to shiver. This, too, in its own way, was confusing. The feeling of cold was almost alien.
The opening led to a semicircular balcony high above a walled garden. Beyond the garden lay a town, nestling in a mountain valley, the buildings white with red tiled roofs. His eyes now accustomed to the light, he gazed at the snowcapped peaks beyond the town and the brilliant blue sky above them. Slowly he scanned the rugged landscape. There was nothing here that tugged at his memory. It was all new.
He shivered again and walked back into the domed room. There were rugs upon the floor, some embroidered with flowers, others with angular emblems he did not recognize. The room itself was also unfamiliar. On a table nearby he saw a water jug and a long-stemmed crystal goblet. He reached for the jug. As he did so he caught sight of his reflection in a curved mirror on the wall behind the table. Cold, sapphire-blue eyes stared back at him, from a face both stern and forbidding. There was something about the reflected man that was unrelentingly savage. His gaze traveled down to the tattoo of a snarling panther upon the chest.