Archive for February 15th, 2015

David Gemmell – Knights Of Dark Renown

Sunday, February 15th, 2015

Knights Of Dark Renown (1989) is one of the few standalone fantasy novels by David Gemmell. Of course even in his series many of the novels contain a self-contained story which can be read without knowing anything on the others. Sometimes characters return and the setting is often similar and that is what connects the novels. To be honest, Gemmell does refer to this novel in his other standalone novel Morningstar but the events lie thousands of years apart and neither of the two novels share much of its concepts except for one thing which might even seem coincidence as even on that point there are differences. I will not disclose it because it will spoil certain surprises.

Knights Of Dark Renown takes place in the generic mediaevil worlds Gemmell prefers to set his stories in. There are hard to pinpoint sometimes as Gemmell avoids going into details on the technology level. Sometimes they fight with bronze weapons, other times with steel and frequently the weapons are magical so it does not matter. As the title of the novel already hints at the central characters are knights and as such the story contains several elements regarding knighthood and battle armour which is what makes it different from his usual fare.

Another difference in this novel is the magical element. Usually it takes a minor place and the main characters are somewhat supported by magic, the wielder usually a mysterious figure. The nature of the magic is left to the imagination. This is not the case here. Gemmell shows more ideas on the magic used and several characters that are capable of powerful magic play an important role. In several cases they provide the point of view.

The novels holds a larger cast of characters than is usual by Gemmell and Gemmell switches viewpoint frequently so that the reader gets to see the story by more of them. This does give them more depth even though the time spent is fairly short. Gemmell manages to do a good job with it.

With so many characters one might think the story will not hold too much plot, but Gemmell puts on his usual fast pace and he uses the larger case to tell more details of what is going on. This gives the plot more depth and variety while it remains a true pageturner as there is much going on.

Knights Of Dark Renown may be one of Gemmell’s lesser known novels (it at least was to me), but it certainly ranks among his best. Here I do have to add that his average quality is quite stable and it is not easy to pick out the better and the lesser ones. This one is certainly recommended.