Review: The King Beyond the Gate by David Gemmell

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Nov 23, 2002
The King Beyond the Gate by David Gemmell

It's hard to go wrong with Gemmell - his books make for smooth and easy reading. There are grim heroes with a hard - but reasonable - outlook on life, who despite their sometimes amoral arguments, usually find themselves fighting against a clear evil.

The King Beyond the Gate is little different, and there's yet-another-siege that the heroes must stand in.

What makes it a little different than normal is that there are more characters than usual that this, and the larger cast helps create a more epic feel than normal.

Additionally, a lot of the story ties in directly with Gemmell's debut, Legend, resulting in a lot of nice hat tips and cameos.

If there's one complaint, it's simply that there's too much of the familiar Gemmell formula at work. But as mentioned above, that's part of his appeal - knowing that the story will be clear, the characters larger than life, and everything resolved at the end.

It does seem to rush a little to the resolution, and it clearly sets up the possibility of a sequel story. Alas, Gemmell doesn't do sequels - instead his Drenai books tend to be spaced at least a generation, sometimes centuries, after one another, and Quest for Lost Heroes - the following book in terms of chronology - appears to be no different.

IMO it remains a shame - and works against Gemmell's popularity - that his books are written to be sold as standalones. IMO he missed a big trick by not running his stories concurrently as a closer-fitting epic saga. The result is that characters you emotionally invest in during one book are unlikely to be seen again, albeit with rare exceptions.

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