David Gemmell Quotes

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About David Gemmell

David Andrew Gemmell (1 August 1948 – 28 July 2006) was a bestselling British author of heroic fantasy. A former journalist and newspaper editor, Gemmell had his first work of fiction published in 1984. He went on to write over thirty novels. Best known for his debut, Legend, Gemmell's works display violence, yet also explore themes of honour, loyalty and redemption. With over one million copies sold, his work continues to sell worldwide.

Born: August 1st, 1948

Died: July 28th, 2006

Categories: Fantasy authors, 2000s deaths

Quotes: 144 sourced quotes total

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"I underestimated you, woman." ... "The cry of men down the ages."
"We irritated him, he told me. Why did he get himself killed for us?" "Because he was a hero. And that is what heroes do. You understand?"
"How do you do it? How do you stay so strong?" "I fake it."
"A lovers' spat," he said. "You know how it is. Boy meets girl, girl wants boy dead. An everyday story, really."
"I don't think I would be too comfortable with many of his compliments ... He's a butcher!" "More than that, my friend ... he is a warmaster. And that makes him a master butcher."
"I am not going to kill a man because he won't let us rob him." "Then go back to your mother and send for a man who wants to win."
Plan for the worst, expect the best.
"Why am I taking seduction advice from a man whose idea of foreplay is to slam coins on the table and shout: 'Who wants to ride the big horse?'" "Because he knows best, Tinker."
A man must know his limitations.
A problem shared is a problem doubled.
A friend in need is a friend to be avoided.
Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone fails at something.
It is not hard to change when your biggest problem is whether the weeds prosper in a vegetable patch.
Each man has a breaking point, no matter how strong his spirit. Somewhere, deep inside him, there is a flaw that only the fickle cruelty of fate can find.
It is a merchant's nature to quibble over coins. It is how we become rich and buy satin shirts. The problems of who governs this area is one for another day.
Liberty is only valued when it is threatened, therefore it is the threat that highlights the value. We should be grateful to the Nadir, since they heighten the value of our liberty.
I am not a hero; I am a soldier. When the battle is lost, I retreat and regroup; when the war is over, I lay down my sword. No last dashing charge; no futile last stand!
[F]ear is a great ally.
Death haunts everyone and never fails.
Blood always aids blood, my friend.
I don't pray, Master Ring. I act.
All beauty is sad. For it fades.
All legends have a base in fact.
[H]e who fears to lose will never win.
In my experience all women deserve someone better.
Life is nothing unless death has been faced down.
The world would be a sad place without mysteries.
Men! What do they know? They never grow up.
A man cannot spend his life worrying about the unexpected.
None of us can choose the manner of our passing.
In any broth, the scum always rises to the top.
All things are possible, ... Except the passing of regret.
It is a rare man who notices a handsome woman.
Evil will never be countered while good men do nothing.
No one can take away the freedom of a man's soul.
Your face may be gone, but you know who you are.
A man with wife and daughters has no place losing his temper.
Nothing in life is sure, my son. Except the promise of death.
Life is sad enough, Magir. Laughter is a thing to be treasured.
I think that for the coward every day carries a kind of death.
By nature of definition only the coward is capable of the highest heroism.
Too many people go through life without pausing to enjoy what they have.
Hold on to your dreams, Kiall. They are more important than you realise.
Every man has his own reason for every deed. Usually it is selfish.
A man's strength is ultimately born of his knowledge of his own weakness ...
... a man can overcome his background, even as he can overcome a skilled opponent.
...love is in the eyes, and one woman knows when another woman is in love.
We all have scars [...] Better by far for them to be worn on the outside.
What is life if a man cannot count on his friends when he has gone mad?
"Foolish: It's all foolish. Life is a farce— a stupid, sickening farce played out by fools."
[...] In real war an officer may have only one chance at succeeding. Consider each problem.
When healers yearn to kill then hope begins to die ... Evil cannot be overcome by evil.
Steal a loaf of bread and they hang you, steal a land and they'll make you king.
The point is [...] that you never know whether you've lost until you've lost. Anything can happen.
All men have talents. Some build, some paint, some write, some fight. For me it is different.
'Do not expect help.' 'One should always hope.' 'Then hope for a handsome savage with kindly ways.'
The very odd thing about sagas [...] is that they very rarely mention dry mouths and full bladders.
I think maybe it is better to believe than not to believe. But I couldn't tell you why.
We like to think of life as a constant ... Yet it can be ended in a heartbeat."
War. What was it about the prospect of some bloody enterprises that reduced men to the level of animals?
A man should be free to do what he wants to do, as long as it doesn't hurt others.
No matter how impossible this war, I shall fight to win. Whatever I have to do, I will do.
Come back and stand with us, lad. We will all go down together—that's what makes us who we are.
We are not made for life at all, old horse. It is made for us. We live it. We leave it.
Be at peace, my friend. One thing I have learnt about Death is that his bark is worse than his bite.
This world has few redeeming features, and one is the capacity for people to love one another with great, enduring passion.
I am a stranger. You do not need to lie to me or pretend. Only with friends do you need masks..
One hundred only, Lord Earl. But judge us not by our number. Rather, watch the numbers of dead we leave behind.
...the baresark loses all fear; his method is all-out attack, and invariably he takes his opponent with him even if he falls.
When your life has been spent in one war after another for forty-five years, you have to be pretty handy to survive.
Never be glad that another man has died. Not ever. [...] It never ends. Never ... ever ... be glad to kill.
I am not going to talk about patriotism, duty, liberty, and the defense of freedom — because that's all dung to a soldier.
I don't know yet whether I fully believe in fate, but certain things do happen in a man's life that he cannot explain.
Most wars are fought for greed, but we are luckier here—we fight for our lives and the lives of the people we love.
"You are getting too old for this." "A man is as old as he feels, woman!" "And how old do you feel?" "About ninety."
'... No, I should have died at Bel-Azzar. Nothing has gone right since then.' ''''Death comes soon enough to all men. Don't wish for it.''''
Bow to nothing, son. I make mistakes as well as any man. If you think me wrong, be so good as to damn well say so.
'Love is for fools. It is a surging of blood in the loins ... there is no mystery, and no magic. Find someone else, my boy.'
'A man should not risk his life for beauty alone, Kiall, for that fades. You might as well risk it for a rose. Think on it.'
Most of the heroes we remember—we remember only because they won. To win you must be ruthless. Single-minded ... which was why he had no friends—just admirers.
Your men are brave men, And you have won. I can live with that, Earl of Bronze — a poor man would I be if I could not.
Kings are chosen by the Source, so it is said ... Therefore those who fight for the king can be said to be godly. Is that not cause enough?
Rubbish! ... No man fights for dirt and grass. No, nor mountains. Those mountains were here before the fall and they will be here when the world topples again.
We are full of dreams [...] We long for the unattainable. We believe in the nonsense of fables. There is no pure love; there is lust and there is need.
It's a funny thing about weaknesses....Most people will tell you they know their weaknesses. When asked, they'll tell you, 'Well for one thing, I'm overgenerous.' ... that's what innkeepers are for.
I don't give a damn, laddie. Until the actual moment, when they cut me down, I shall still be looking to win. And the gods of war are fickle at best.
While men compete in war, there will be warriors. While there are warriors, there will be princes among warriors. Among the princes will be kings, and among the kings an emperor.
But from now on act the part. You will be amazed at the number of people you fool. Don't share your doubts! Life is a game, Scaler. Play it like that.
‘Win or lose, we achieve nothing in the world that we understand [...]’ ‘But then the world does not matter.’ ‘Indeed it does not [...] It is good to understand that.’
Evil lives in a pit. If you want to fight it, you must climb down into the slime to do so. White cloaks show the dirt more thank black, and silver tarnishes.
As men we are all cursed by the violence in our natures. Men like the Moidart — aye, and Winterbourne — revel in that nature. We do not. We struggle to overcome it.
Our ancestors have fought wars since time. And won them. More than that, we have built societies and held them together. We are the rulers, Gaise. We are the mighty. Remember that tomorrow.
It would be a fine thing if war could be conducted as a game where no lives were lost. At the end of a battle combatants could meet [...] and drink and talk.
The nature of a coward is to avoid death. If such a man courts peril there can be only two reasons. Either he is not a coward at all — or there is no danger.
A man can be aroused to anger as easily as he is aroused to rut. The two emotions are closely linked. Anger and lust. So the warrior is aroused in battle and fights to dominate.
"... But men don't come in just two groups, one of gold and the other of lead. They are a mix of both." "And what about women?" "Pure gold, my girl," Rayvan answered with a chuckle.
Some of you are probably thinking that you may panic and run. You will not! Others are worried about dying. Some of you will. But all men die. No one ever gets out of this life alive.
It is easier with strangers, for they touch your life but for an instant. You will not disappoint them, for you owe them nothing; neither do they expect anything. Friends you can hurt, for they expect everything.
A man makes mistakes, but he lives by them. Foolish it may be on occassion. But in the main it is the only way to live. We are what we say only so long as our words are iron.
Gentlemen, you are in sorry condition. But war will render you yet more sorry. The soldier will fight in mud and hail, snow and ice, drought and flood. It is rare that a warrior gets to fight in comfort.
Only a fool loves war. Or a man who has never seen it. The trouble is that the survivors forget about the horrors and remember only the battle lust. They pass on that memory, and other men hunger for it.
When responsibility is thrust upon you, can you run from it? No—you have never and you never will. That is what makes you as you are. That is why men follow you, though they hate your blood. They trust you.
How do you decide a battle is lost? Numbers, strategic advantage, positioning? It's all worth a sparrow's fart. It comes down to men who are willing. The largest army will founder if its men are less willing to die than to win.
Nothing in life is easy, Arvan. But it's what I'm trained for. To lead an army. To bring death and destruction on my enemies [...] A man must stand against evil wherever he finds it and he must use all his talents.
'Makes no sense to me,' said Huntsekker. 'You don't know who is at your door, but you know the thoughts of a man twenty miles away.' ‘Life is a mystery,’ said Powdermill, with a gold-toothed grin. 'It is that, right enough,' agreed Huntsekker.
Look around you: see the people as they touch and show their love. But don't watch coldly, like an observer. Don't hover outside life—take part in it. There are people waiting to love you. It is not something you should turn down lightly.
We are closest to life when we are vying with death ... The blood runs hot, the air smells sweet, the sky becomes an unbearably beautiful blue. Battle is intoxicating. That is why the ghastly vileness of war has always been so popular.
Well, who decides who as won or lost? It's not like Avondale any more. That was easy. We charged. They ran. We captured their cannon. Now, that was a victory. Now, we just charge each other, kill each other, and argue about who won.
I'm not laughing at you. [...] I'm laughing at the whole stupid business. We face the biggest threat in our history and they give me a helmet too big,and you a helmet too small, and tell us we can't exchange them. It's too much. Really.
Evil is never truly strong, for it is born of fear. Why did he fall so easily? Because he tested your strength and saw the possibility of death [...] had he possessed true courage, he would have fought back. Instead he froze — and died.
Do not speak badly of yourself, for the warrior that is inside you hears your words and is lessened by them. You are strong and you are brave. There is a nobility of spirit within you. Let it grow — you will do well enough.
Man alone, it seems, lives all his life in the knowledge of death. And yet there is more to life than merely waiting for death. For life to have meaning, there must be a purpose. A man must pass something on — otherwise he is useless.
No need for confusion, my dear Mulgrave [...] Beautiful wine and sour vinegar come from exactly the same source. Curiously if one leaves a bottle of wine open for long enough it will become vinegar. Happily in this house wine never survives long enough to go bad.
You may think life is sweet now, but when death is a heartbeat away then life becomes unbearably desirable. And when you survive, everything you do will be enhanced and filled with greater joy: the sunlight, the breeze, a good wine, a woman's lips, a child's laughter.
I never worshipped anything but my sword and my wits; now I suffer for it. But I can take it, for am I not a man? ... It is not hard to be a legend, Tenaka. It is what follows when you have to live like one.
There are many forms of cowardice, Chareos. One man can face a score of enemies with a sword, but not a sickness which paralyses him. Another can face death with a smile, yet fear the years of hardship and toil which are living. Are you a coward?
I do not mock men who have faith. It goves them comfort, and oft times leads them to help others. Yet I have also seen great evils done in the name of the Source. And never have I witnessed a miracle. Until I do I shall remain sceptical.
"We don't seem to be overflowing with luck." "You make your own. I put no faith in gods, Lake. Never have. If they exist, they care very little—if at all—about ordinary mortals. I put my faith in me, and do you know why? Because I have never lost!"
"Why do they do it?" whispered Horeb. "Their eyes, you mean?" said Rek. "Yes. How can a man put out his own eyes?" "Damned if I know. They say it aids their visions." "Sounds about as sensible as cutting off your staff in order to aid your sex life."
Some people are born ugly. It's not their fault, and I for one have never held it against a man that he is ugly. but others — and I count myself among them — are born with handsome features. That's a gift that should not be lightly taken away.
Self-preservation is a paramount desire in all of us. Good and evil are interchangeable. When the wolves pull down a fawn I don't doubt the doe would consider it an evil act. For the wolves it is a necessity, and they would see the arrival of fresh meat as good.
There is only one way to survive in war, and that is by being willing to die. You will find soon that swordsmen can be downed by untutored savages who would slice their fingers if asked to carve meat. And why? because the savage is willing. Worse, he may be a baresark.
A warrior has only one true friend: himself. So he feeds his body well; he trains it; works on it. Where he lacks skill, he practises. Where he lacks knowledge, he studies. But above all he must believe. He must believe in the strength of will, of purpose, of heart and soul.
We all of us carry the seed of evil in our hearts and souls ... Even the purest, even the most holy. It is part of the human condition, born in us. We cannot root it out. All that we can do — at best — is to prevent it from germinating.
'Why must I have the Piglet?' 'Because you are the best.' 'I do not understand.' 'Teach him.' 'And who teaches me?' ' As an officer, my lord, you will have many men under your command and not all will be gifted. You must learn to use each man to his best advantage ...'
...[A]ll duels followed a pattern. They began with heat and fury, then settled into a contest of wills. With two equally matched opponents there would come a time when the worm of doubt entered the equation. The truly skilled recognized such moments, and fed them. It was at this time that the endgame would begin.
'Where will you go from here?' he asked. Chellin shrugged. 'Who knows? North again. Maybe not. I'm tired of this life, Kiall. I may head south, to Drenai land. Buy a farm, raise a family.' 'And have raiders descend on you to steal your daughters?' Chellin nodded and sighed. 'Yes. Like all dreams, it doesn't bear close examination [...]'
Live or die, a man and a woman need love. There is a need in the race. We need to share. To belong. Perhaps you will die before the year is out. But remember this: to have may be taken from you, to have had never. it is far better to have tasted love before dying than to die alone.
This enterprise was doomed, but we do what we can and do what we must. So a young farmer with wife and children decides to go home. Good! He shows a sense that you and I will never understand. They will sing songs about us, but he will ensure that there are people to sing them. He plants. We destroy.
"What I did understand from the rebirth process was that the rebirth reproduced a physical duplicate of the original. But this is my point. It is physical. What truly makes a man who he is? Is it the strength of his arms, or the courage of his soul? You have your own soul, Harad. You are not Druss. Live your own life."
It is the curse of absolute power, Olek. There is no one to admonish you, no laws save those you make. We like to believe there is something special, even alien, about evil. We like to think that tyrants are different from the rest of us. That they are somehow inhuman. They are not. They are merely unchained, unfettered; free to do as they please.
'He didn't want to come, Dweller. He didn't want to get involved. It should have been me who died.' 'Of course he wanted to come. Why else was he here? You didn't force him, Draig. He came because you were his brother and he loved you. He could have left at any time once the pursuit began. He made his own choices. Just as you did. Just as I knew you would.'
I was on top of the mountain. But there was nothing there. Just clouds. And I found that you can't live on that mountain. But when it throws you off — oh, how you long for it! I would kill to climb it again. I would sell my soul. It is so stupid. [...] I took the standard. And now I can't even become a farmer again. The mountain won't let me.
'I have no wish to argue, Father. Yet it must be said that the monks exist here in peace and security only because of the swords of the defenders. I do not belittle your views — I wish all men shared them. But they do not. ... if all men and women lived as you and I, there would be no children, and no humanity. What then would be the Will of the Source?'
Never let anger, or outrage, or fear affect you. That is easy advice to give, but hard to follow. Men will bait you, they will laugh at you, they will jeer. But it is just noise, Kiall. They will hurt the people you love. They will do anything to make you angry or emotional. But the only way you can make them suffer is to win. And to do that you must remain cool.
"I had a teacher ... He said there were three kinds of people in life: winners, losers and fighters. Winners made him sick with their arrogance, losers made him sick with their whining, and fighters made him sick with their stupidity." "In which category did he put himself?" "He said he had tried all three and nothing suited him." "Well, at least he tried. That's all a man can do, Lake. And we shall try."
I remember a tutor who told me that all the world's hunters have eyes that faced front: lions, hawks, wolves, men ... He said man was no different from the tiger. We are nature's killers, and we have great appetites for it ... Listen, Rayvan, the beast is in all of us. We do our best in life, but often we are mean, or petty, or needlessly cruel. We don't mean to be, but that's the way we are.
All things in the world are created for man, yet all have two purposes. The waters run that we might drink of them, but they are also symbols of the futility of man. They reflect our lives in rushing beauty, birthed in the purity of the mountains. As babes they babble and run, gushing and growing as they mature into strong young rivers. Then they widen and slow until at least they meander, like old men, to join with the sea.
Winning is not everything, Stavut. Men like to think it is. Sometimes it is more important to stand against evil than to worry about beating it ... Evil will always have the worst weapons. Evil will gather the greatest armies. They will burn, and plunder, and kill. But that's not the worst of it. They will try to make us believe that the only way to destroy them is to become like them. That is the true vileness of evil. It is contagious.
'By my lights, my son, you are a young man. [...] there should be love in your life. Am I at fault in my thinking?' 'Not at fault, Senior Brother. I loved once, and in truth I could love again. But the pain of loss was too much for me. I would rather live alone than suffer for it.' 'Then you are here to hide, Charreos, and it is not a good reason. The gift of life is too great to waste in such a fashion...'
And now I am going to tell you a great truth, and if you are wise, you will take it to your heart. All men are stupid. They are full of fear and insecurity—it makes them weak. Always the other man seems stronger, more confident, more capable. It is a lie of the worst kind, for we lie to ourselves ... How do you know? You do not! You listened to the voice of your inadequacy, and because you believed, you are in my power. If I draw my sword, you are dead!
What do you mean, why? Is it not obvious? What is life but a betrayal? We start out young, full of hope. The sun is good; the world awaits us. But every passing year shows how small you are, how insignificant against the power of the seasons. Then you age. Your strength fails, and the world laughs at you through the jeers of younger men. And you die. Alone. Unfulfilled. But sometimes ... sometimes there will come a man who is not insignificant. He can change the world, rob the seasons of their power. He is the sun.
"No golden age to discover now," he whispered. "No end to disease and starvation. No, bright sparkling cities reaching the clouds ... All that I have lived for is gone now. I am so tired." "Then think on this, priest: You stopped the Eternal from finding greater weapons. Your actions here have led to her death. The world is free again." "Free? Of one tyrant perhaps. You think there will be no others?" "No, I do not. But I know there will always be men to stand against them. You grieve because of a pure magic lost. That magic was corrupted by evil. This is how evil thrives. We find an herb that cures disease, and someone will make a poison from it. We forge iron to make a better plow, and someone will make a sharper sword. There can be no power that evil will not corrupt."
[A]ll men die. ... A man needs many things in his life to make it bearable. A good woman. Sons and daughters. Comradeship. Warmth. Food and shelter. but above all these things, he needs to be able to know that he is a man. And what is a man? He is someone who rises when life has knocked him down. Someone who raises his fist to heaven when a storm has ruined his crop — and then plants again. And again. A man remains unbroken by the savage twists of fate. That man may never win. But when he sees himself reflected, he can be proud of what he sees. For low he may be in the scheme of things: peasant, serf, or dispossessed. But he is unconquerable. And what is death? an end to trouble. An end to strife and fear. ... Bear this in mind when you decide your future.

End David Gemmell Quotes