I’m a great fan of David
Gemmell‘s work and was saddened
to hear of his death in 2006. I’ve got at least 17 of his novels at home and
thought I’d read everything except the Troy series (which doesn’t really
appeal to me) when I stumbled accross “Echoes of the Great Song” at my local
This book doesn’t fit into any of Gemmell’s other series and I don’t think
it’s one of his best but it’s worth a read all the same.
The basic premise is that the world and even time itself is all part of a
“great song” and if you can play the right music and have the right power
source you can manipulate matter (build great cities), heal, have eternal
youth and change the rate at which you experience time. The avatars had
discovered these principles and a way of using crystals to store energy
gathered from the sun. They then proceeded to dominate their world living like
gods and treating all other races as inferior.
After two thousand years of civilisation all is not going well for the avatars
however. A great cataclism has resulted in a new ice age; their capital city
and main source of energy is buried under ice and only a few hundred living in
remote cities remain. Knowing that the avatars power is dwindling the formerly
sub-subservient civilisations are plotting rebellion.
Things get worse however when another civilisation very similar to the avatars
in a parallel universe escapes from its own cataclism by invading the avatar’s
world. The invaders seek only blood to power their crystals and so pose a
threat great enough to force ther natives into an uneasy alliance.
have pointed out, we soon arrive at the standard bunch of ill-matched
characters on a quest to defeat the invadors but this is being slightly unfair
since this happens against of a backdrop of politics and betrayal played out
elsewhere in the world and we do see a lot of character development as avatars
and ordinary humans learn to trust each other.
Gemmell has never been one to go for the “happily ever after” style of ending
and his books tend to end with heroes that are victorious but dead or a
victory that is real but temporary. Some of his endings, particularly of the
Rigante series are almost heartbreaking. I sense that Gemmell has always been
interested in having a degree of realism regarding how characters interact and
evelop and in some cases uses his books to explore issues from our history -
for example the Rigante series deals with the collision of a Roman-like
civilisation with a celtic-style tribal civilisation founded on personal
This book won’t leave you with a warm glow of happiness either but it’s the
journey that’s important not the destination and this is a book worth reading.
If you find some of the other fantasy writing out there a bit too sugary for
your taste you should definitely give Gemmell a try.