Waylander/Drenai books


Nerf Herder
Nov 10, 2007
Sutton, Surrey
I think Waylander was the first Gemmell work to have an actual literary theme. In fact it has three themes. Firstly, obviously, redemption. Waylander's is a quest to redeem himself for starting the war with Vagria and in order to redeem himself he must recover the armour of bronze. Danyal and the children are interwoven into that theme in that he must keep them safe while he finds the armour as a kind of test of his resolve.

The second theme is that of pacifism tested against unbridled evil. (I think that if Gemmell had written this book 15 or 20 years later Dardalion would never have abandoned his principles but that's another debate.) In this book Dardalion takes on a tiny portion of Waylander's subconscious heroics which challenges his faith in pacifism leading him to form the first Temple of the Thirty. I'm not a religious man but I like this them a lot, I like the part where Dardalion reports to his disciples his dream of the desert beset by daemons and the oasis shaded by the tree with thirty branches. It's not Jaime Grymouch rescuing Maeve Ring shivers but it's still nice...

The last theme in Waylander is probably the best: that killers will do what killers do and yet there is an unspoken code between them. I think the part where the assassin with the goose feather arrows dies trying to 'off' Waylander is a terrific 'honour amongst thieves' moment: Waylander is so kind to him...


Well-Known Member
May 12, 2014
Despite having a LOT of excellent parts in it (by my lights) waylander was one of my least favorite gemmell novels because I found waylander himself to have been (in the background we learn) absolutely unforgivable. By the end of the book (-spoilers spoilers spoilers-) he's barely repaired the damage he himself has caused.

And thanks to an unlikely series of coincidences as much as bravery, forethought, ferocity etc, too!

Maybe the book had a christian theme I find inimical if not downright moronic: unlimited forgiveness, that it's a worthwhile endeavour for god, or in this case the source (or perhaps just providence) to save the worst of the worst, when plenty of people sacrificing more and enduring more for the good of the world's sake are not. In a universe of limited resources, and uncertain stability, spending them on the likes of waylander is treason. (and waylander is the recipient of a whole lot of luck, which I read as a kind of deus ex machina -divine resources and mobilisation. Iirc the source is mentioned as well.)

-Leave such redemption for heaven, where an omnipotent deity guarantees the stability of the realm, and the well being of those who have held more tightly to the cause of good. Not earth, where saints suffer and nations fall.

So Anyway in conclusion my 2c is that if you thought waylander was an unworthy (and perhaps uninteresting) protagonist, you will probable enjoy Gemmell's other books, because by my reckoning he's one the least worthy of gemmell's protagonists by far (-that I have read). (especially in his first book, where his crimes are introduced and quickly sidelined).

And also that if you didn't think the book had a fair amount of COOL STUFF in it, which imo it did by halves and quarters in excess, that might be an indicator that gemmell isn't so much your style.
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