This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.
The Reading Canary: A Reminder
Series of novels – especially in fantasy and SF fiction, but distressingly frequently on other genres as well – have a nasty tendency to turn sour partway through. The Reading Canary is your guide to precisely how far into a particular sequence you should read, and whi-
Wait, That’s Not Actually How It Works Usually
OK, I confess, that’s not how it usually goes at all. Normally, I either grin and giggle and jump about and declare that you must read the entire series, or I get all stroppy and declare that it’s all rubbish and not worth your time in the slightest. The Drenai series by David Gemmell, which I began reviewing here, is a rare exception, in that I’ve reached a point where the series becomes, to me, pretty much unbearable. Bloodthirsty violence balanced with careful characterisation really shouldn’t be this off-putting to me, and here, right here, smack in the middle of the second omnibus, is where I think “you know what? I’ve had enough”.
To recap the previous volume: the Drenai stories revolve around the struggles of the Drenai people, tending to focus on eras where the Drenai are facing a particular crisis. Most of the books appear to be placed within three distinct eras, each of which was defined by one of the first three books in the series. In chronological order, these are:
- The Waylander Era, first explored in Waylander, during which the Drenai nation evolves from a monarchy to an Empire administered by a ruling council, and the Nadir people way off to the north are a bunch of fragmented tribes who are easy pickings for their neighbours.
- The Druss Era, during which the career of the hero Druss the Legend occurs, and the great Nadir leader Ulric unites his people into a single nation, ready to take their rightful place on the world stage. Although the Drenai nation is in serious decline, a surprising victory at the fortress of Dros Delnoch in Legend, the first book in the Drenai series, saves them and preserves the nation for a little while longer.
- The Tanaka Era, at the beginning of which the mad emperor Ceska has led the Drenai nation to ruin, to the point where the Drenai can only be saved by an intervention from the Nadir under the leadership of Tanaka Khan – descendant both of Ulric and of the Drenai lords of Dros Delnoch. The Nadir finally become the predominant power on the world stage, and the story of the Drenai nation – in its present form – has run out, and some time after the events of The King Beyond the Gate Tanaka conquers the Drenai Empire in the name of the Nadir.