The Immortal Throne by Stella Gemmell

The Immortal Throne, by Stella Gemmell book coverGenre: Fantasy
Publisher: Signet
Published: 2016
Reviewer Rating: four and a half stars
Book Review by David L. Felts

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The Immortal Throne, by Stella Gemmell, is the follow up to The City. For those not in the know, Stella Gemmell is the wife of fantasy novelist David Gemmell, who unfortunately passed away in 2006. At the time, he was working on Troy: Fall of Kings, leaving it uncompleted. Using his notes and deconstructing past novels, as well as her former experience as a reporter, Stella Gemmell finished it.

And now we have her second original work, The Immortal Throne, which starts by recounting the events of The City just before the rebellion. The City, ancient and huge, has been embroiled in war for centuries.

There are a plethora of plot twists, betrayals, and deaths, falling sway to the undeniable influence Game of Thrones has had on the fantasy genre. In the hands of in capable writer, this can end up being a mess, but in the hand of a capable one, such as Stella Gemmell, the results is a complex, character driven tale that never fails to deliver. Like Martin, Gemmell isn’t shy about having bad things happen to her characters, up to an including having them killed. The end result is a great and immersive story with characters that come to life.

In The City, the Emperor was killed, leaving various forces struggling for control in the aftermath of his death. Beset on all side, every man and woman is called upon to serve, presenting some unique to fantasy perspectives as male and female soldiers fight side by side.

Some of the characters, called Seraphim, are much more than they seem, possessing magical powers and indefinite life, at least in the sense that they can’t die from old age, although they can from violence. I like that these “super” characters can still be killed, since it adds to the tension whenever one of them is in trouble. The tale follow numerous characters as well, so just because you’re reading about a specific one doesn’t mean he or she is immune from paying the ultimate price.

The novel follows the adventures of these various characters as the the City struggles after the devastation brought on by the rebellion. There’s a massive army gathering to the north with the apparent purpose of destroying the City and all its inhabitants. This leads to some fantastic battle scenes, all wrapped around and intertwined with family feuds, ancient rivalries, a quest for an ancient artifact, and political and personal betrayals as various characters jockey for power and position.

Older players struggle to retain their power, while newer ones come to grips with the depth of their own new-found abilities, and each one has his or her own motivations.

If you like your fantasy big, your worlds as real as the one we walk through daily, and your characters fully realized and leaping off the page, then you’re sure to enjoy The Immortal Throne.

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