Title: White Wolf
Author: David Gemmell
Del Rey Books
(Mass Market Paperback)
These days, with the success of the Lord of the Rings movies, popularity of the Fantasy genre seems to be on the rise again. If readers venture into a bookstore in search of fantasy novels (I mean sword and sorcery kind of fantasy), they would be pleased to find that there is a wide variety of options to choose from - from books by the Dark Elf creator, R. A. Salvatore, to books by David Eddings, Raymond E. Feist, Janny Wurts, Robert Jordan, Terry Brooks and not forgetting Margaret Wise and Tracy Hickman, the authors of the well-known Dragonlance Chronicles.
Another great writer is David Gemmell, who has managed to carve out a small genre within the fantasy world with his ingenuity at writing 'heroic fantasy'.
After completing another story for the Rigante series, Gemmell is back at writing the Drenai Saga. In White Wolf, Gemmell 'revived' one of best hero of the series, Druss the Legend, to once again do battle against the baddies (the other hero is Waylander).
(Note: In most of his books, the main hero dies at the end of the story - well, heroically. Druss and Waylander are the only characters that make it into three books or more - three for the Waylander series and including White Wolf, four for Druss. Gemmell's next book, The Swords of Night and Day also features Druss)
White Wolf starts off in a period of about three years after the Battle of Skeln, where the mighty Druss helped the Drenai small army defeat the Ventrian Immortals. In this book, Gemmell has brilliantly created another hero, named Skilgannon the Dammned, who is a master swordsman, but with a soul burdened by his past.
Skilgannon was the general who led the Naashanite forces into the city of Perapolis and killed everyone in there, including women and children - even after the battle was won. This action earned him the name "The Damned".
After that, The Damned disappeared and was discovered only two years later in a rural town, serving as an acolyte in the local abbey. Trouble soon came knocking. Unable to resist his destiny and his haunted past, The Damned once again ventures into the world, this time to find a magical temple to resurrect his wife, Dayan, who died during a plague.
It was during his journey to the city of Mellicane that he met Druss the Legend, now 50 years old. Druss was searching for his friend Orastes, the Earl of Dros Purdol. He later joined Skilgannon to Mellicane to continue his search.
Discovering that Orastes's daughter, Elanin, has been abducted by a man called Ironmask, Druss sets out on a rescue mission. Skilgannon and a few other companions joined him - each for a personal reason.
Later on, readers who have read Gemmell's Hero in the Shadow (Waylander series) will be surprised by the appearance of the priestess Ustarte (something like a cameo?). It seems like Gemmell is trying to link the history of the Drenai series with the characters he had created.
Unsruprisingly Ironmask was an old adversary of Skilgannon - supposedly more skilful than The Damned. In this kind of heroic fantasy, the outcome is almost predictable (at least for the baddies), but what happens to our heroes this time? We all know that Druss the Legend (a.k.a. the Deathwalker, a.k.a. the Silver Slayer) won't die because he has to appear ten years later to do battle at Dros Delnoch against the Nadir army. How about Skilgannon?
All I can say is that followers of the Drenai Saga would be in for a twist at the end. As a hint, in Gemmell's next book, The Swords of Night and Day, Skilgannon and Druss will be reincarnated a thousand years after events in White Wolf. It seems that Gemmell is not willing to let ol' Druss die peacefully just yet.