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The Swords of Night and Day: Book Two of the Damned    by David Gemmell order for
Swords of Night and Day
by David Gemmell
Order:  USA  Can
Corgi, 2005 (2004)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

David Gemmell, one of my favorite fantasy authors, has used a neat plot twist to bring back some of our old favorites of his heroes - Druss the Legend and Skilgannon the Damned - as well as anti-heroine Jianna, once (and still) loved by Skilgannon. The world needs saving from Jianna, now the Eternal, and only the big names can get the deed done.

After a long, full life, death in battle, and a thousand years of fighting demons in purgatory (the Void), Skilgannon wakes in a young body, Callan. The man responsible for his rebirth is Landis Kan, once a servant of Jianna, whom he also brought back to life and immortality. Landis returns Skilgannon's Swords of Night and Day. Druss has also been brought back, but only in body, in the form of the misunderstood Harad; the spirit of Druss remains in the Void, where he has lingered past his time to protect another. Landis asks Callan to give Harad the ax of Druss the Legend, and Harad also adopts the ancient warrior's iron code of honor, including 'Protect the weak against the evil strong.'

Landis cloned another Jianna, while the original still lives. This young warrior woman, Askari, reminds Callan of Jianna in her youth, when his love for her was untarnished by her later vile acts. Callan and Harad help Askari and her friend, the frightened but very brave Stavut, against attack by Jiamads - men and beasts melded together by a combination of science and sorcery. Stavut gradually learns to see the Jiamads as more than beasts and earns their pack loyalty. A dire fate hangs over Askari - if the real Jianna is killed, she will instantly transfer to a clone, possibly Askari. Another important character is Stavut's friend, Alahir of the Drenai, who finds and wears his ancestors' legendary Armour of Bronze.

Aside from defeating the undefeatable Eternal, Callan learns that he must steal something from a 'magical bird that ... Feeds on the sun ... and flies round the moon.' He and his 'rag-tag group of misfits and dreamers' fight unsurmountable odds, with varying success. The author's usual themes of violence and redemption, honor and irony underlie events. The book ends (as Callan and Askari ride into the sunset) with a warning, 'You should always be careful of what you hope for' that makes it clear more will follow, good news for Gemmell's multitide of fans.

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