My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Two kings are dead – two parts of the prophecy have been fulfilled. The final part, the fate of the third king, rests in the hands of mere soldiers. Soldiers, who in their prime, stood before the tide of countless battles, facing down other soldiers in the mud, the shit, and the blood. But these soldiers have never stood before a demon.
A queen is hunted by the demons. Though soldiers protect her, they are no longer of their prime. They are not silvered with age, but grey, worn and weary. Three men, heroes of their time. Nogusta the Swordsman, Kebra the Bowman, and Bison the brute.
The child will decide the fate for mankind, as its existence is the difference between life and death for the human race. But for him to live, he first needs to be born.
Following on from my review of Legend and the Waylander books, I thought it time to follow up with yet more Gemmell. I’ve had a case of writer’s block recently, and with little time to read between work and sleep, I needed a book that I could plough through (read: keep me up long into the night reading it).
Winter Warriors is yet another fantastic example of Gemmell’s fireside myth-mongering. It’s a legend, a myth, something written with such realisation that you believe every word. You WANT to believe every word. Gemmell has always written inspiring heroes that rise to the call, but Bison, Kebra and Nogusta really shine for me. Not only should they turn their backs on the cards fate has dealt them, they shouldn’t be able to even play a hand in their condition – yet they hedge their bets to win all the same.
And my god is this book onto a winner!
Gemmell’s voice is light and easy to read. No info-dumps, no loquacious yet endless paragraphs of scenery description or fathomless lore. Winter Warriors is a good old heroic-fantasy romp with laughs, action, tears and a trademark warmth of hope that Gemmell kindles with every story.
The characters…they’re real. Truly – flawed and fighting to come to life. Need I say more? They’re believable, they’re human. Life isn’t black and white, it’s shades of grey (and there’s more than 50!!!!) and our heroes have more than enough of that in their hair (except Bison – he’s bald).
The plot is rich and entertaining, well thought out and fully realised. Little twists here and there keep it more than interesting, but the need to see the characters succeed is more than enough to keep a reader hooked.
Winter Warriors is a book for those who should not, for those who cannot – but for those who will, no matter what. If you take one thing away from this book, it’s that little glimmer of hope that if others can fight the good fight, then so can you.
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READ ME : Public nominations for the David Gemmell Awards for Fantast are open until the 31st January 2017. The awards celebrate the finest fantasy that traditional publishing has to offer, and the categories include: best fantasy novel, best fantasy debut, and best fantasy cover art. Titles nominated must be traditionally published by a mainstream or independent press, and have been first published in English in 2016.
If you would like to nominate an author and their work, please email Alex Davis, the Awards Administrator, at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject header GEMMELL AWARDS NOMINATIONS. Tell him I sent you. Genuinely, please tell him – he doesn’t know me at all, but I think it would be funny for him to receive a bunch of emails saying I sent you his way. I can imagine it now – ‘Who the f### is this Mike Everest bloke? I haven’t bought any double glazing recently!’