I was first introduced to David Gemmell through the Legend Book releases of Waylander and Legend. While I found Waylander a compelling read, Legend was a bona-fide page-turner. The idea of an ageing, arthritic, injury-ridden hero, called upon to stand against insurmountable odds, resonated deeply.
The cover of White Wolf has a banner proclaiming it to be 'A novel of Druss the Legend'. But make no mistake; the central character is a warrior named Skilgannon the Damned, a famous general and former lover to the Witch Queen of Naashan. Remorseful over his actions, Skilgannon has disappeared from sight, taking with him the magical Swords of Night and Day. For three years he has lived under an assumed name, with an order of monks in neighbouring Tantria, until revealing his true identity during a confrontation with the King's Arbiters. Forced to leave, Skilgannon agrees to escort a monk to the city of Mellicane.
During the journey they come across refugees fleeing toward Mellicane from the invading armies of Datia and Dospilis. It's here they encounter Druss, the Silver Slayer. Druss is on his own quest to locate a missing friend, Orastes, and Orastes' daughter, Elanin. He is accompanied by Jared and Nian; twins who share a tragic secret, and Garianne, a young woman touched by madness. In a nice twist, Garianne has a weapon that pays homage to another of Gemmell's Drenai-based characters.
Together, the two groups fight off enemy soldiers and horrific creatures called Joinings, part man and part beast. Seeing their goals are mutually exclusive, Druss and Skilgannon agree to join forces in search of the hidden Temple of the Ressurectionists, a sanctuary run by Ustarte, an ancient who may have the answers that Skilgannon and the twins seek. In addition, they learn that Elanin is being held in a fortress, located near the Temple, by her mother and a man named Shakusan Ironmask.
David Gemmell is a master storyteller, and writes with an easy style that holds up to repeated readings. His trademark has always been the ability to craft intricate characters, from the main protagonist to the common foot soldier who appears for little more that a paragraph. Reading Gemmell at times can be likened to listening to your grandfather tell a story around the fireplace.
White Wolf continues his tradition of exciting tales by introducing a new character who is dark and conflicted, pursued by inner demons, but willing to make the necessary sacrifices to purge his soul and seek redemption. Skilgannon is such a character. Together with Druss the Legend they form a formidable team, and make for an excellent read. White Wolf comes highly recommended.