On my reading list, this book had the note “Big heroic classic fantasy”, and that’s exactly what it is. Big damn heroes doing heroic things. The aging hero coming back one more time, the hopelessly besieged city, the … young fated couple: This book has it all. I haven’t read any other Drenai Saga books, so take this review with a bit of salt:
This book does exactly what it says on the tin and then just a bit more. It’s mostly defending a city, yes, classic adventure hero yarn well-told, but. There’s also some other stuff. Considerations of age, of how you look back on your life’s work, how you even choose your life’s work. On futility and the value of human life – if you defend a city knowing it will be razed, are you actually doing good? I liked those parts.
I didn’t particularly like the romance, which had as much spark as when a toddler shoves two puppets together and declares them man and wife. Brave warrior woman, coward dude who becomes a better man for her yada yada. Didn’t care for either of them very much, to be honest, and I don’t think the author did, either. Comes with its fair share of sexism, though less than I would have expected from the time it was written, and nothing worse than a probably below-average amount of male gaze. (Literally: “As she watched him Druss stirred. He opened his eyes, focusing on her slender legs clad in thigh-length doeskin boots. Then his gaze travelled upwards.”)