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Summary

A country in desperate need of heroes.

Angostin invaders surge through the Highlands, laying waste to everything in their path. Darkness follows in their wake as a mad necromancer resurrects the eons-dead Vampyre Kings.

Only the bandit Jarek Mace, and the magicker and bard Owen Odell, have the courage to fight the Angostins and the undead. Whispers soon spread that Mace is the legendary Morningstar, a saviour who will protect his country in its hour of need. Yet Mace seems nothing more than a thief and a liar.

As the final battle approaches, Odell wonders which of the two Maces will triumph: the self-serving rogue or the saviour of his people, the Morningstar.

©1992 David Gemmell (P)2018 Little Brown Book Group

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A Perfect Gemmell nugget

David Monteath is just perfect for Morningstar. He brings a charm and an empathetic soul to a perfectly written one off story in the true Gemmell mode. Just a pleasure and impossible to resist full immersion in the pictures he paints - one of my favourites!

3 people found this helpful

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Gripping, lyrical, clever and beautifully read!

This was an unexpected compact masterpiece and a rare treat. Utterly recommended for both writing and narration. Unlike most of Gemmell's books it is written in the first person, and has the the voice of a skilled, warm, honest storyteller sharing both their personal experience and narrative of a classical dark ages epic.

The point of view, however, delivers two unexpected and powerful additions to Gemmell's already accomplished storytelling: first is that the pathos and lyrical quality is profound, authentic and engaging, as the narrator learns and grows in understanding, experience and wisdom, and we share that personal journey; and second, that it creates a compact economy and elegance of language, the self-deprecating efficiency of someone relating a tale in person to a trusted friend, rather than a grand explanatory narrative with worldbuilding and expositions.

It is the most poetic of all the Gemmell books I have read, perhaps because of this personal retelling, and with so many unexpected twists and turns, very subtle, human and insightful character sketches and interactions. Throughout the story there are twists and turns and the structure, and ending, are NOT what you would normally expect from the epic warrior fantasy trope, while at the same time gripping and satisfying, delivering battles, tension, camaraderie, despair and courage with strong and important female characters and an eclectic supporting cast.

And this brilliant writing is brought to life by a superb narration by David Monteath, a masterclass in understated, warm, dramatic and musical Scottish tones through which which he breathes extra emotional depth into the story and further delineates the interesting characters and their relationships, a real pleasure to listen to.

Evidence of the compact, fluent writing is how short it is and how quickly I devoured it, despite the high adventure, the sweeping story arc and the careful character development. I simply could not stop! As a longtime reader of Gemmell I easily recommend this as a standalone and/or an introduction to his work, especially in audio form - it is sublime.

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Brilliant one shot fantasy

A fantastic rollocking adventure. A stand alone story with the usual Gemmellian set of macho characters. Love it

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Morning star

Not one of Davids best books. Found the narrator disappointing all the characters had similar accents. I think Sean Barrett would’ve been a better narrator.

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Brilliant

I have read this book many many times and the audible version does not disappoint.

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5 star

great books by a great author ,brought alive by aurable .. read this years ago and just as good nown

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Fantastic, my favourite book, now in audio form.

Brilliant fast-paced storytelling, epic scope, with vampires, sword, and sorcery. Well read, but one of the characters should have an Italian accent, instead he had a slower Scottish one instead. Aside from that, very enjoyable.

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Very good story

This is a very very good story, if you like hero story this is one of the best 🦸‍♂️

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  • Carol
  • 29-11-18

Sheer Magnificence!

Of David Gemmell's best novels, this 1992 work is perhaps the masterpiece. The story is a standalone and is, I believe, the only novel Gemmell ever wrote in the first person.

As recounted by the bard and 'magicker' Owen Odell, this is the story of Jarek Mace, a charismatic young Angostin noble turned thief, skilled with longbow and sword on on the battlefield and with his--shall we say, lance--in the bedroom. Mace is selfish, amoral, and a murderer, but it seems destiny has more in store for him. As his exploits are recounted and gilded by Odell's songs, Mace becomes the Morningstar, reluctant leader of a band of equally reluctant and seemingly unheroic heroes who will free the Highlands of the cruel Angostin overlord and his malevolent sorcerer sidekick.

You may recognize echoes of several sagas, including Braveheart and Robin Hood, but as always Gemmell's mixology of these and other elements is unique. Magic and sorcery are used both for evil and for good. There are Vampyre Kings and even an army raised from the dead. There are strong female characters and a little romance (but a lot more bromance and battles). Magic is always secondary, however, to the author's magnificent characterizations of the human spirit. And, a master storyteller at his best, Gemmell brings many seemingly unconnected details and events into magnificent fruition at the satisfying conclusion. Pay attention to the little things, they are all important!

David Monteath narrates wonderfully, doing full justice to Odell's voice and Gemmell's storytelling. Readers used to the constantly shifting POVs prevalent in fantasy novels (including Gemmell's other books) may find the focus of a linear narration strange at first; you are hearing the story through the eyes of Owen Odell, and it unfolds only as he experienced it. But this becomes a strength of the book, certainly not a drawback.

Gemmell is read and honored far more in his native England than in the U.S.; indeed, in his memory (he died in 2006 at age 58) literary awards for fantasy (the Gemmell Legend Award for best novel, and the Gemmell Morningstar Award for best newcomer) are awarded annually. Winners have included Brandon Sanderson, Joe Abercrombie, and Patrick Rothfuss, among many other well known names. I hope David Gemmell gains the listenership on Audible his finest works deserve. 'Legend,' his first published book and more typical, may be the best place to start, but don't wait too long to experience the literary treat that is the Morningstar.

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  • Roger tobar
  • 18-02-20

A young child’s fantasy!

This book is an old favorite of mine. I read it to my sons and loaned it frequently to many others. The weaving of the story and the way it was skillfully written with twists and turns while in the view of “the bard”. Made it a great read. The ups and downs as well as the humor and sadness make for a great tale. If you like fantasy. It will definitely entertain you to say the least.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 30-05-18

Exceptional!

I loved this book. It's one of Gemmell's best that I've heard. I highly recommend it.

2 people found this helpful