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on 9 May 2017
To deal with the elephant in the room, if you are expecting something similar to the David Gemmel books, don't. There are echos of the style of the Troy series, but this book is has it's own style.
The story is intreguing and the characters well balanced and believable. It does require some effort to get into the story, but it was an enjoyable experience and I downloaded the Immrtal Throne as soon as I finished.
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on 14 September 2015
Similar to the historical models of such places as Rome, Cuzco and Byzantium, the eponymous city (it is never given a name in the novel, known only as ‘the’ city) once conquered and ruled over lands far and wide around it, forming an empire of colossal proportions. But like all empires that stretch themselves too thin it has begun to collapse. The novel is set in what seems to be the latter stages of the city’s life. The peoples it once ruled over have banded together and rebelled and the city is now under siege on all fronts. The novel follows several characters throughout this chaotic period and there is a nice contrast between important, political and powerful figures and those that live in degradation in the most squalid areas of the city. It creates a real sense of the city and life within it from various perspectives from the opulence of the palace to the dank claustrophobia of the sewers.

The novel has a strange structure. It is divided into one hundred page sections that generally follow certain characters and different aspects of the overall plot. Often this can be quite intriguing and adds to the mystery of whom or what is running the City. Equally it can sometimes be quite irritating as there can be a lack of cohesion between the sections/events, promoting a disjointed feeling. Certain characters and plot threads are, perhaps, not given as much attention or explored as much as they could be; such as Elija’s role or the love story subplot.

One of the most interesting aspects of the book is on how the physical state of the city mirrors the state of its once great empire. As the empire collapses under its own weight and those around the city band together to bring about its destruction, the City itself, after generations of buildings been erected upon others, is literally collapsing under its own weight as the rivers around and beneath it slowly flood into the foundations and lower levels. As such the city is under siege from within and without.

There is a lot to be enjoyed throughout the book and the storyline builds in quite a satisfying way. The conclusion of events isn’t much a resolution, however, leaving as many questions open as it answers (not that this is necessary a bad thing). The nature of the city’s rulers is never really adequately explained and it is uncertain as to whom actually ‘wins’. There is a feeling at the close that this could be the first of a trilogy or a series but it appears to be a standalone novel. There is certainly scope for more considering the plot threads left open. Thus the novel, whilst enjoyable, feels a tad unsatisfying.
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on 12 June 2016
I must admit I picked this book up due to being a massive David Gemmell fan and stupidly I started reading expecting something similar from Stella Gemmell. This book is nothing at all like those written by David, it is so much more. The character's are very deep and well constructed where you feel there is a genuine connection between the reader and the character. The plot which I must admit can be a little slow in places is but it is well structured and planned out leaving no major plot holes which I find is a problem with lots of modern fantasy. The writing is also fantastic Gemmell really knows how to draw the reader into a scene that comes alive in the mind of the reader.

I would therefore highly recommend this new series to everyone and I cannot wait to read the next instalment.
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on 19 May 2014
I was impressed by the overall preface and a few of the pages I flicked through prompted me to purchase this book.

That said, I soon realised and possible got frustrated at how the overall flow of the book jumped around with new characters introduced or some past event was explained. I also though calling the armies the Reds (rats) or the Blues (blue skins) was a little enticing to the reader.

The Old Man was well portrayed and whilst the warrior Lee was also interesting It just seemed they were peripheral characters. Dol Salida or Mason or even Marcellus could have had much more depth to their characters. Yet, I feel the book was very much half written on the basis that a sequel is already planned, given the development of the characters and anticipated Holy War that is suggested following the flooding (not wishing to spoil the outcomes).

If you have a short attention focus or prefer a central character then this book will disappoint you, yet perhaps you are seeking a change?
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on 7 April 2015
Really wanted to really love the book but was left slightly cold by the end of book. A good use of first person story telling that was different enough to be engaging but initially was a little distracting. Well written characters but did I connect with any of them? Probably not as much as would have liked. I was a great lover of David Gemmell and this is always going to draw comparison with Stella having the same surname. I can see her influence on the final series of books that they wrote together and as a first book on her own I would recommend this thus the 4 stars. I would like to see further books to see how she develops as a writer. Good idea, interesting style of writing but not the full ticket as less from the heart and more from a technical style.
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on 31 August 2017
David Gemmell was probably my favourite author of all time, and I bought his book purely for nostalgic reasons (it's written by his wife). I regret to say I didn't enjoy it at all. It's a turgid read and I found it impossible to engage with any of the main characters. By the time we got out of the dungeons I couldn't care less what happened next.
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on 9 February 2014
This is a really good read, and enjoyed the unusal twists and turns of the story as it covers the many layers that make up the City and the various characters that help shape the story of the said title.

It grips you from the first page and you don't know what to expect has the story ducks and dives through the various strata and strange characters who inhabit this book.

I came across Stella as co-writer with her husband on the trilogy of Troy that he was writing before his death and this novel will not disappoint. I hope that she will soon write another equally exciting story.
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on 30 December 2015
It is hard not to compare Stella Gemmell's writing to that of her late husband, nor to read the book without the same expectations regarding style, character and pacing.
The City is a strange mix of styles, not unlike a heroic fantasy novel combined with Gormenghast. The characters are more deep and rounded than David Gemmell's, but the pacing is slower and the plot/motivations more obscure.
While I enjoyed this book, I won't be rushing out to buy future books by Stella Gemmell.
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on 24 September 2015
Not too sure what to expect but I absolutely loved David's work so bought this on a chance and after reading it I couldn't say enough nice things about it. This ticked all the boxes for me. I have read the other comments from readers after having read the book. My advice: if you want fast pacey action with body parts flying all over (and who doesn't) then this book might not be for you, but if you want an intricate (but not complicated) in-depth story with lots of wonderful descriptions and quite a bit of action then this is definitely for you.

Thank you Stella - when is the next one?
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on 19 September 2016
This was a "1st pass" reading which I always do and reread to gain a deeper understanding. Initially I thought it was too long winded with not enough happening in the first half of the book with big jumps in the sequencing the second half was a bit more interesting and flowed better however, again there was a lot of narrative in trekking through the sewers/dungeons. There was some very interesting concepts, not enough was made of the emperor and his peers.
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