Drenai by David Gemmell
Up until the age of 19, I preferred comics to books. I was a huge fan of graphic novels in particular, and one day in a bookstore I stumbled across the graphic novel version of 'Legend'. I loved the main character 'Druss' and thought I would check out some books by this David Gemmell.
I bought 'Druss the Legend' to read on holiday and read it cover to cover in three days, then read it again immediately (something I have not done since).
Gemmell did not just revive my interest in heroic fantasy but in reading period.
I remember thinking that Gemmell was a modern Robert E Howard, minus the cliches. Gemmell creates vivid characters and plots in fantasy settings and should be compulsive reading for all fantasy fans.
The Drenai series, to which 'Druss the Legend' and 'Legend' belong, are outstanding.
Other books of note are the John Shannow series and Knights of Dark Renown.
I now consume at least forty books (varied genres) a year and own every one of Mr Gemmell's creations.
Gemmell inspired me to buy my first word processor and I have been writing for 10 years in the fantasy, SF and Horror genres.
There is some snobbery in the fantasy family that we all belong to and some of this is pointed at David Gemmell. Usually fans of gigantic, complex series written by Jordan et al. If you enjoy strong plots, even stronger characters, can take or leave politics and rediculous fantasy family tree lines, give Gemmell your time, you won't regret it.
For once, the marketing blurb hurled at us on book sleeves is true, David Gemmell is the greatest living writer of fantasy fiction.