Gemmell prize for fantasy goes to Polish novel, Blood of Elves

The David Gemmell Legend prize, established in honour of the later author to lend dignity to the fantasy genre, is awarded to Andrzej Sapkowski's bestselling tale of dwarves, elves, gnomes and humans

A book prize that is intended to restore fantasy to its proper place in the literary pantheon has been won by a bestselling Polish author who is little-known in the UK.

Andrzej Sapkowski outsells Stephen King in Poland, but his fantasy novels, set in a world where the races of dwarves, elves, gnomes and humans are on the verge of war with each other, have only recently been translated into English. His novel Blood of Elves, which follows the story of the mutant assassin Geralt the Witcher, was this evening awarded the David Gemmell Legend prize for fantasy, which was set up by a group of authors in honour of the late David Gemmell, and intended to celebrate "fantasy with a capital F".

Over 10,000 fans from 75 countries voted in the prize, with Sapkowski eventually emerging triumphant from a shortlist of five authors. He wins a battle axe - named Snaga - that featured in Gemmell's fiction, with the runners-up - Joe Abercrombie, Juliet Marillier, Brandon Sanderson and Brent Weeks - all presented with a miniature version of the axe.

"Our winning author is already a huge star in Europe and winning the award will hopefully ensure new readers experience his work in the excellent English translation from Gollancz," said Deborah J Miller, award administrator and author of the Last Clansman and Swarmthief series. "Genre fantasy is often dismissed as being simply gung-ho or macho, as people outside genre circles tend to imagine it's all about epic battles, weapons and warriors – in fact, it is all of those things and so much more. Contemporary fantasy fiction is about far more than escape to other realities. Freed of the constraints and preconceptions of other kinds of fiction, it holds up a mirror to reflect on this world and time through the prism of vivid characters and enthralling drama that engage the imagination like no other genre."

The international scope of the award's voting demonstrates "how fantasy resonates in people's lives and transcends cultural differences", she added. "Not many other genres could claim the same empathic appeal."


Alison Flood

The GuardianTramp

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