‘It was the kind of magic which changed hearts, and opened minds.’
The Wyrd of Wishing Tree Woods, Ravenheart
This is a website dedicated to the wonderful and life-affirming wisdom threaded through the work of fantasy novelist David Gemmell. I hope that through the website people who love David Gemmell might come to see some of his work in a new light, or be inspired by it yet again. I hope people who have never read David’s work might be inclined to give it a go, to mine some of the brilliant depths that have inspired me in so many ways over the last 20-or-so years. And I hope those in between will get something, from a little extra peace to a flash of inspiration. If you do enjoy the site, or get something from it, or have any suggestions, we’d love to hear from you.
What happens on this site?
Well, it’s still early days, but here are the plans. There will be a helping of Gemmell Weekly Wisdom delivered straight to your inbox via our mailing list. As the 700-odd quotations and items of wisdom arrive, they will appear on this site in the growing archive, where you’ll be able to look through the wisdom and philosophy at your leisure (the archive may grow faster than the mailing list from time to time – you won’t have to wait a decade to get them all!). You can follow us on Twitter, too, for more bits and pieces. As time goes on there may be some other posts exploring bits of David’s wisdom, his writing, and other related bits and pieces. If you miss David – and who of his fans doesn’t – we’ll also likely publish some recommendations of other places to look for things that you might like.
But the main thing is the wisdom. So if you like it, and you can think it might help or interest someone, we’d love it if you could share it: suggest someone signs up to the mailing list, tweet something to them, mention it on Facebook, link to it from your blog.
Why does the Wisdom of David Gemmell exist?
‘I have walked with heroes.’
Andromache, Fall of Kings
The idea for this site came to me several years ago. I was considering why I rarely celebrate my successes. One of the things I considered (alongside others, such as ‘I’m British’) was whether watching and listening to Sir Alex Ferguson interviewed every week on Match of the Day since I was 8 had affected me. Sir Alex would never really celebrate his success, which is probably why he had so much of it – he was always trying to motivate his players on to bigger and better things next time, or put off an opponent, or confuse the media. But that got me to thinking: what else have I been exposed to that much in my life, and what effect might it have had?
And without much more thinking, I thought of David Gemmell. At first, I thought of some of the practical things I had learnt from him: I’m confident I’d be able to make a good go of riding a horse (“grip with your thighs, not your calves”), despite the last time I was on one being a pony trek in South Wales in about 1996; I know exactly how I’d teach someone to swim (and what I’d do if I started to panic in the water, not being a particularly strong swimmer myself); and I definitely have a better idea of how to steal a bull than I would without Jaim Grymauch.
But then I started to think about it more: about how throughout David’s work, there is a thread of something more than just practical advice. Throughout his writing is an incredibly strong set of moral codes, but more than that, there is a great exploration of what it is to be human: of what you do when it feels like the world is against you, of how to face down your fears, of how life should be lived. And this has resonated with me since I came across it, and over 20 years or so has become an inseparable part of who I am and how I live my life.
So I embarked on another (umpteenth) reading of David’s complete works, and as I went I marked down all the bits that felt like real wisdom, like part of the philosophy upon which the work is based. And as I suspected, there was lots of it. And it was everywhere. In every book and from a whole host of characters – not just Druss and Jaim, as I would have expected, but from Milus Bar, Belzer, Stavut, Clem Steiner and many, many more. And each time I read the books again – and if I read through the 700-odd quotations on my list – I can’t help but feel my soul grow a little bit, and feel very glad that – thanks to David Gemmell – I have walked with heroes.