The City is ancient, layers upon layers. Once a thriving metropolis, it sprawled beyond its bounds, inciting endless wars and creating a barren wasteland of what was once green and productive.
In the center of the City lives the emperor, 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 to the blood-soaked fields of battle, 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 he has survived, hiding from his immortal foe. 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.
Stella Gemmell, who finished husband David’s historical novel Troy after he died in 2006, offers up an intriguing solo effort. Set in an eternally-at-war ancient city, the novel features a quintet of disparate characters: Fell Lee, a warrior with seriously conflicted loyalties; Indaro, daughter of one of the City’s powerful families; Bartellus, a legendary military commander who was forced into hiding in the City’s sewers; and Elija and Emly, a young brother and sister who have spent years living in the sewers. Some people believe the only way to stop the never-ending war the City has been fighting is to kill the allegedly immortal emperor, but will this free the City or plunge it once and for all into chaos? Having constructed a richly detailed world full of vividly drawn characters, Gemmell sets up a number of puzzles for the reader to solve—including
whether the book is set in an alternate past, or a far-flung future—and as we move through the sprawling story, the pieces begin to fall into place. Although a sequel is not mandatory (the book can work as a stand-alone), one would be most welcome. --David Pitt --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“An astonishing book.”—James Barclay, author of the Legends of the Raven series
“Exciting, intelligent, emotional.”—SFFWorld
“Gemmell proves more than capable of standing on her own with this powerful epic fantasy…Richly textured prose and settings distinguish this novel, and fans of grimdark fantasy will hope it spawns many sequels.”—Publishers Weekly
“Every chapter ends in another question, making it nearly impossible to put the book down…The characters’ complexities are a marvel, making them relatable and believable.”—RT Book Reviews.
- Paperback: 528 pages
- Publisher: Ace Trade; Reprint edition (September 2, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 042526419X
- ISBN-13: 978-0425264195