Built up over the millennia, layer upon layer, the City is ancient and vast. Over the centuries, it has sprawled beyond its walls, the cause of constant war with neighbouring peoples and kingdoms, laying waste to what was once green and fertile.
And at the heart of the City resides the emperor. Few have ever seen him. Those who have remember a man in his prime and yet he should be very old. Some speculate that he is no longer human, others wonder if indeed he ever truly was. And a small number have come to a desperate conclusion: that the only way to stop the ceaseless slaughter is to end the emperor’s unnaturally long life.
From the rotting, flood-ruined catacombs beneath the City where the poor struggle to stay alive to the blood-soaked fields of battle where so few heroes survive, these rebels pin their hopes on one man. A man who was once the emperor’s foremost general. A man, a revered soldier, who could lead an uprising and unite the City. But a man who was betrayed, imprisoned, tortured and is now believed to be dead...
I think the best way to describe this book is epic. It was truly epic. I know fantasy is usually epic, but here the word gets it's true meaning. The story is deep and feels complex. It's fascinating, and the world building and story telling was awesome.
It's about a an empire on feet of clay. A city slowly eating itself and spitting out soldier after soldier. Women thrown into the war machine until the only people left are maimed old soldiers and a few lost children. There is no time for making children when everyone is away fighting. Fighting for the enormous city and the emperor. Everything else if forgotten.
The story jumps in time after we meet 2 children and an old man. An old man of importance. After that we get to know a female soldier and learn more about the endless war. Gemmell is also good at inserting facts and history about why the city is like it is. Why it keeps on fighting and we learn more and more.
Bart and Em show us the city itself and how life inside is not easy. Fell and Indaro shows us the war outside. There are threads everywhere in this vast book that slowly is being handled by someone. Pulling everyone together for one last showdown.
The book is not one I rushed through to know more. Instead I had to take it easy because that is just how it's told, how it has to be. And when I finished I was not sure, should I be happy? The ending is both a happy one and an uncertain one.
I know I give 3s to everything cos 3s means it's good and that I enjoyed it. But this one has to get a 4 cos of the good writing.
War and politics is what you get with this book. I also liked how she has taken from so much and put it together in a melting pot. Until I just can't say where from everything is (even if it is fantasy). There is Rome, the East and more. I was also interested in The Immortals, where did they come from? I do want more from this world.
Paperback, 560 pages
Published June 4th 2013 by Bantam Press