Stella Gemmell: The City (review)

The Author

Stella Gemmell (c) The Studio Bexhill

Stella Gemmell is a journalist, and worked with her husband David Gemmell on all three Troy novels. She concluded Troy: Fall of Kings after his death.


Book Description
In her debut solo novel, Stella Gemmell, coauthor of the �powerful” (Booklist) conclusion to David Gemmell’s Troy series, weaves a dark epic fantasy about a war-torn civilization and the immortal emperor who has it clutched in his evil grasp.

The City is ancient, layers upon layers. Once a thriving metropolis, it has sprawled beyond its bounds, inciting endless wars with neighboring tribes and creating a barren wasteland of what was once green and productive.

In the center of the City lives the emperor. Few have ever seen him, but those who have recall a man in his prime, though he should be very old. Some grimly speculate that he is no longer human, if he ever was. A small number have come to the desperate conclusion that the only way to stop the war is to end the emperor’s unnaturally long life.

From the mazelike sewers below the City, where the poor struggle to stay alive in the dark, to the blood-soaked fields of battle, where few heroes manage to endure the never-ending siege, the rebels pin their hopes on one man—Shuskara. The emperor’s former general, he was betrayed long ago and is believed to be dead. But, under different aliases, he has survived, forsaking his City and hiding from his immortal foe. Now the time has come for him to engage in one final battle to free the City from the creature who dwells at its heart, pulling the strings that keep the land drenched in gore.

It was with split emotions that i took on reading this book. I had no direct experience of Stella’s writing, as i have still not read the last ever Gemmell Troy novel that she completed for her Husband David Gemmell, for me reading that book means the end of all David Gemmell books. David Gemmell is the man who inspired my love of reading and every rich, powerful, educational, inspirational thing that has brought to my life, including many great friends.
I promised myself i would read Stella’s book as if she was just another debut writer, i would avoid comparing her to DG (its only fair), it was an impossible task. I constantly found myself looking for and sometimes finding glimpses of the big man. (which is only natural, as i’m sure Stella had a huge influence on Davids books).
So The City: firstly Stella is an excellent writer, she has a depth of style that surpasses DG in complexity.  She seems to use a similar muse or historical base to her story, in the same vein as DG. This City being (for me)the end of the mighty yet corrupt Byzantine empire. What Stella weaves from this base is a vastly complex dark city of levels and labyrinths, of darkness and greed. She builds characters who are heroic yet deeply flawed (and this was pure DG…but in a good way). Ultimately she builds a world that becomes as real as our own. If i had to pick a gripe its the over complex bounding around of the plot, it leaves the reader no respite if he/she wants to keep up with the plot. If i were to give some advice for a reader, find a weekend where you can sit with the book and not be disturbed, its a book that demands your complete and total attention, if you can do this you will keep up with the complex weaving of the plot, that all pulls together at the end in a gripping climax and wonderful multi dimensional characters.

so whilst im not the kid captured by the brilliance of DG any-more, i am a grown up who has been drawn in hook line and sinker by a new and very powerful voice in the world of fantasy.

Highly Recommended


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