Saturday, 28 November 2015

The Swords of Night and Day (the last – 11th novel in the Drenai series)

(Originally posted on Tuesday, 1 May 2012)

To me the best Drenai novels are: “Legend” and “Hero in the Shadows”, but here I would like to write something about the last novel in that series – “The Swords of Night and Day”.

I must admit this novel is not among my favourites, because it starts a little slow and there is too much about Jiamads – melds of men and beasts (called Joinings in earlier novels).

Nonetheless this novel is exceptional for two reasons. One is
the idea of Reborns – a kind of human clones. The evil empress
Eternal is using her own Reborns as brand new bodies for her soul, becoming practically immortal. The souls of Druss the Legend
and Skilgannon the Damned return to the bodies of their Reborns
as a result of a prophecy. The moral questions is what happened to the souls of all those Reborns? To me the idea of Reborns is a clear analogy to our world, where human clones could be grown as spare body parts.

The second reason is how David Gemmell explains the source of all magic. It’s all about ancient artifacts created by a lost civilization and about the way those artifacts operate. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I can’t explain it.

As I said this novel starts a little slow, but the ending is amazing.
It’s very moving and uplifting at the same time – a perfect finale
for the whole series.
Here is a spoiler-free excerpt:

    Stavut suddenly laughed. “You really still think we are going to win?”
    Druss looked at him. “Winning is not everything, Stavut. Men like
to think it is. Sometimes it is more important to stand against evil than to worry about beating it. When I was a young man, serving with Gorben’s Immortals, we took a city. The ruler there was a vile man.
I heard a story there. His soldiers had rounded up a group of Source priests, and they decided to burn them all. One citizen stepped out from the crowd and spoke against the deed. He told them that what they were doing was evil, and that they should be ashamed of themselves.”
    “And did he saved the priests?”
    “No. And they killed him, too. But that’s what I am saying, laddie.
I remembered that man’s deed, and it inspired me. Others who saw it would have been inspired. Evil will always have the worst weapons. Evil will gather the greatest armies. They will burn, and plunder, and kill. But that’s not the worst of it. They will try to make us believe that the only way to destroy them is becoming like them. That is the true vileness of evil. It is contagious. That one man reminded me of that, and helped me keep the code.”
    Stavut inserted the needle into the split flesh above Druss’s eye
and carefully sealed the cut. “You believe that you can defeat evil
with an ax? Is that not a contradiction in terms?”
    “Of course it is, laddie. That’s always the danger. However, in this instance I am merely standing my ground. If they come at me I will cut them down. I am not invading their land, or burning their cities, or ravaging their women. I am not trying to force them to bend the knee, or accept my philosophy or religion. Do I think we can win today?
I think we have already won. I have seen it in the eyes of the Guard. Will we die? Probably.”

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