Edition: Legend, 1989
Review number: 564
David Gemmell's Celtic-flavoured fantasy is a variation on the common "band fighting the evil rulers" theme which goes back at least as far as the legends of Robin Hood. The regime of king Ahak, who began his reign with military conquest, has gradually become more unjust and tyrannical. Traditional champions of justice, defenders of the poor against the rich, the Knights of Gabala have disappeared, to be replaced by the cruel and evil Red Knights.
The subject matter may be a little hackneyed, but it is drawn from a rich source. Gemmell adds in many ideas. The background mythological structure (as I have mentioned) is Celtic, rather like a less New Age-y version of Katherine Kerr's Deverry series. He describes a pogrom clearly paralleling the Holocaust. Themes of corruption and abuse of power are well handled. All these things make up for a general lack of originality.