Drenai Series

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The Drenai Series is a fantasy series by British writer David Gemmell. The series is about the history of the Drenai Nation and follows various heroes through the ages of its history.

Books[edit]

  1. Legend (1984) (Originally published in the USA as Against the Horde, re-released as Legend)
  2. The King Beyond the Gate (1985)
  3. Waylander (1986)
  4. Knights of Dark Renown (1989)
  5. Quest for Lost Heroes (1990)
  6. Morningstar (1992)
  7. Waylander II: In the Realm of the Wolf (1992)
  8. The First Chronicles of Druss the Legend (1993)
  9. The Legend of Deathwalker (1996)
  10. Winter Warriors (1997)
  11. Hero in the Shadows (2000)
  12. White Wolf (2004)
  13. The Swords of Night and Day (2004)

Anthologies:

  • Drenai Tales Volume I: contains; Legend, The King Beyond the Gate, Waylander
  • Drenai Tales Volume II: contains; Quest for Lost Heroes, Waylander II and The First Chronicles of Druss the Legend
  • Drenai Tales Volume III: contains; The Legend of Deathwalker, Winter Warriors and Hero in the Shadows

Chronology[edit]

The publishing order of the books does not correspond to the chronology of events that take place in the series.[1] The chronological order is:

  1. Knights of Dark Renown
  2. Morningstar
  3. Waylander
  4. Waylander II: In the Realm of the Wolf
  5. Hero in the Shadows
  6. The First Chronicles of Druss the Legend
  7. The Legend of Deathwalker
  8. White Wolf
  9. Legend
  10. The King Beyond the Gate
  11. Quest for Lost Heroes
  12. Winter Warriors
  13. The Swords of Night and Day

Overview[edit]

Setting[edit]

Dros Delnoch is a Drenai fortress that guards the pass between the Nadir homeland to the north, and the Drenai homeland to the south. Dros Delnoch has six concentric walls and a keep. The first and strongest wall is sixty feet high and four hundred paces wide, with towers set every fifty paces. Wall One is called Eldibar, meaning 'Exultation', for it is where the enemy is initially repelled. Wall Two is called Musif, or 'Despair', because by now the defenders have seen the fall of Eldibar. Wall Three is Kania, or 'Renewed Hope'. Wall Four is Sumitos, or 'Desperation'. Wall Five is Valteri, or 'Serenity', because by now the defenders know that they will die, but they are determined to face the end with courage. Wall Six is Geddon, or 'Death'. It is said that Dros Delnoch would never fall while men with courage stood on its walls.

The Drenai Empire is a long-standing nation. Their main enemies include the Nadir - a Mongol-like nation of warring tribes, the Ventrian and Vagrian Empires, and the Sathuli - a reclusive, religious tribe of warriors who dwell in the Delnoch Steppes. The Drenai gained their freedom from the Vagrian Empire thanks to the efforts of the legendary heroes Karnak and Egel, the first Earl of Bronze - this part of the Drenai history is told in the book Waylander. The Drenai face many threats over their history, but finally succumb to the rule of the Nadir after Tenaka Khan unites the warring tribes of the north to invade the Empire. These events are suggested to have occurred between The King Beyond the Gate and Quest for Lost Heroes. Another factor in the downfall of the Drenai is the evil Emperor Ceska, who joins forces with warrior-priests of Chaos and utilises an ancient technology allowing him to combine humans with beasts, creating Joinings - fearsome creatures driven to maim and kill by the mental powers of the Chaos priests. Eventually the Drenai gain their freedom in the events leading up to "Winter Warriors". It is also noted that under King Skanda's rule they conquer Ventria. Whether Skanda's son holds it after his death is unknown.

The Thirty is a group of warrior priests formed by the Source priest Dardalion during the Vagrian invasion who, after seeing so many of his brothers murdered, realizes that such evil cannot be fought with love. Twenty-nine other priests agree with him and so The Thirty is formed, utilising powers of the mind and spirit as well as physical weapons in their struggle. When fighting the Dark Brotherhood on the spirit plane The Thirty discover they can form into The One, a single entity that is greater than the combined power of the Thirty, however this intoxicating new super-entity quickly becomes a danger to their individuality and is abandoned. The Thirty fight during the battle of Dros Purdol and when the Vagrians finally break through the gates, the remaining members of The Thirty are slaughtered as they focus their powers on protecting Waylander to the last; Only Dardalion survives his wounds and later forms a second Thirty. Dardalion leads the second Thirty to protect the Nadir Wolfshead tribe from the vast Gothir army. Throughout several battles The Thirty save the Wolfshead from destruction before finally Dardalion is mortally wounded. Before he dies however he sends the last remaining member to Vagria to form a new Thirty.

Vagria is shown to be situated south west of the Drenai on the official Drenai world map shown in "White Wolf". The Vagrian empire is stated to have had at least two wars with the Drenai, the first chronicled in "Waylander" in which the general Kaem led an unsuccessful invasion of Drenai lands which is repulsed and the Drenai, led by the first Earl of Bronze, invade them in turn. The second conflict is mentioned in "Winter Warriors" where it is stated that Skanda, King of the Drenai, led a successful invasion of Vagria.

Ventria is bordered by Naashan in the northwest, Cadia in the west, the Ventrian Sea to the east, and the Southern Sea. Its major cities include Caphis, Capalis, and Usa. Ventria was likely the largest country in the Drenai world until the rise of the Nadir empire, which formed after the events of The King Beyond the Gate. Excluding the Chiatze and Kiatze nations, Ventria was probably the most cultured of the Drenai world's countries, boasting a university in every city. Ventria features in many novels in the Drenai series. In Waylander II: In the Realm of the Wolf, Ventria launches an unsuccessful attack on the Drenai. Ventria was eventually conquered by the Drenai King Skanda before the events of Winter Warriors, though it is not known whether his son held the country after Skanda's death. In The First Chronicles of Druss the Legend, a large portion of the story takes place in Ventria as the nation fights to repel invaders. The epilogue in Legend states that Ulric Khan collapses and dies in Ventria whilst leading his invasion (mirroring the way Genghis Khan collapsed and died during his last campaign). Ventria is also the main country featured in the book Winter Warriors.

Nadir They are based on the Mongols and have a similar culture and physical description. The Nadir were founded by a Chiatze nobleman named Oshikai Demon-Bane who led his people from their homeland to the wastelands known as the Nadir steppes. It was at this point that Oshikai gave them a new name "Nadir" meaning "cross roads of death." After Oshikai's death the Nadir splintered into dozens of separate tribes and were oppressed by the Gothir for centuries. The main hope of the Nadir during this period was that one day a "Uniter" would rally the separate tribes together and crush their enemies. The path leading to the time of the Uniter was set in motion during the events of "Waylander II: In the Realm of the Wolf", in which the Wolfshead tribe, then prophesized to be the origin of the line of the Uniter, successfully survived a Gothir attempt to annihilate them. In the book "The Legend of Deathwalker" Druss assists a band of five Nadir tribes, led by a young "Wolfshead" named Okai, in the defense of Oshikai's tomb against an army of Gothir soldiers. After the successful defense and unknown to Druss, Okai takes the name Ulric and becomes The Uniter prophesised for centuries. Over the next two decades Ulric conquers the Gothir and a number of other northern nations. He eventually turns his attention to the lands of the Drenai. During the events of "Legend", Druss helps to defend the fortress of Dros Delnoch against Ulric and his 500,000 strong army. Though Druss dies during the defence, the Drenai, with the help of 3000 Sathuli, hold the fortress and prevent Nadir entry into Drenai lands. The battle ends when Ulric is forced to return home to put down a rebellion by his nephew. Ulric leaves behind his standard (this emphasizes that he will return). However, during his invasion of the Ventrian Empire he collapses and dies of a "heart spasm." His son Jongir Khan leads a second invasion of Drenai lands which is also repelled. Terms of the peace treaty demand Jongir's daughter weds the Earl of Bronze's youngest son. The child Tenaka Khan was born through this marriage. Years later during the events of "The King Beyond the Gate" Tenaka again unites the Nadir and leads an army to save the remaining Drenai rebels fighting against the mad Emperor Ceska. Following victory and as promised, Tenaka leads his army back out of the defenceless lands, but promises to return to fulfill the Nadir destiny. Across many lands and campaigns, Tenaka completes the domination denied Ulric, revealing himself to be truly the prophesied Uniter, conquering all the southern nations. He finally dies when poisoned by his eldest son Jungir. Jungir became Khan and had his brothers killed, siring twins with a Gothir slave woman, though he died before they were born at Bel-Azar, killed by a Gothir boy who was possessed by the spirit of Tenaka Khan. After the death of Jungir Khan one of his sons was taken by the shaman Asta Khan to be the new Khan of the Nadir. The other twin was smuggled away and led the Drenai to freedom against his brother in the War of the Twins. The final fate of the Nadir Empire is not known.

Characters[edit]

  • Waylander The Slayer is the main character of Waylander, Waylander II: In the Realm of the Wolf and Hero in the Shadows. An anti-hero like the Earl of the Bronze in Legend, Waylander appears at first immoral, an assassin with only mercenary motivations, however is revealed through a series of flashbacks to be a tortured soul, once noble, and now seeking redemption for the singular evil act that defined his legend - the regicide of Niallad, a kind-hearted and well-loved Drenai King.[2]
  • Druss the Legend is a hero embodying virtue, courage, honour, chivalry and strength of character. Druss is the grandson of Bardan the Slayer, a psychotic madman driven insane by the demon residing within his enchanted axe, Snaga the Sender. Druss is described as a physically imposing man, immensely strong but also possessing great speed and dexterity. He has a hard, flat face, black hair and a thick, black beard and pale blue eyes. Despite his initial lack of formal combat training, he becomes known as a fearsome warrior who has never been bested in single combat. He wears the armour and weapons of his grandfather, which includes a black leather jerkin with silver steel pauldrons, black leather gauntlets with reinforced steel plates covering the knuckles and forearms, black leather boots and a black pot helmet with a silver axe motif on the brow flanked by small silver skulls. Druss was the main protagonist in Gemmell's first novel, Legend, however chronologically his story begins in The First Chronicles of Druss the Legend and is continued in The Legend of Deathwalker. Having died in Legend, Druss reappears in The Swords of Night and Day, both as a spirit wandering in the darkness, and in physical form by possessing his clone. In October 2000 at the World Fantasy Convention in Texas, David Gemmell gave an interview in which he revealed that Druss was based on his father, Bill. "Years later, when I wrote my first novel, I used Bill as the model for a character. His name was Druss the Legend. Bill re-appeared in many novels thereafter, in many guises."[3]
  • Tenaka Khan is the main protagonist in The King Beyond the Gate and later becomes a significant figure in Drenai history when he unites the Nadir tribes and leads them against the Drenai. A descendant of Legend characters Ulric the Uniter and Rek, the Earl of Bronze, he is half Nadir, half Drenai and not quite accepted by either. He is a skilled martial artist and swordsman, described as having fluid and dance like motions.
  • Skilgannon The Damned is the main character in Damned series of books White Wolf and The Swords of Night and Day. His proper name is Olek Skilgannon, though he is known largely by his epithet, which he gained in the Naashan independence war. Tall, athletic and with a mohawk-style haircut, he is a Naashanite swordsman who wields the Swords of Night and Day. The blades are possessed by demonic entities and were forged in imitation of the Swords of Blood and Fire. Skilgannon is an extremely formidable fighter on par with Druss in his prime. He dies in battle, but is cloned several centuries later to fight an evil empress, no other than his former love Jianna, also cloned. He prevails, fighting his own offspring Decado in the process, and disappears alongside another clone of Jianna.
  • The Old Woman, known also as Hewla, is the antagonist in White Wolf. Though she is not directly an antagonist to Skilgannon, her manoveurings in the story darken his path. She is several hundred years old, appearing during the Waylander sequence of books, up until her death in White Wolf

References[edit]