Yes, Gemmell as in David’s wife. She worked with him on some of his books and completed his Fall of Troy series after his death. This is her first solo novel and by heck, it’s a cracker. This is, for me, the equivalent for fantasy of what Hawk Quest was for historical fiction. I don’t think she put a foot wrong in this one – it’s so well written, inventive and plotted that it was a joy to read.
What’s it about? Well, it describes the efforts of a motley assortment of characters to bring down an apparently immortal and thoroughly decadent emperor who rules over the eponymous City. Some of them are fighting in an incredibly long war between the City and its enemies, others are inhabitants of the gloriously intricate under-City which is like some kind of mega-dungeon, slowly flooding and causing the city above it to sink. They are tied together by some truly brilliant plotting that is immensely satisfying when you finally realise how it all falls together.
The prose is realistic, particularly the combat scenes, gritty without being nihilistic or bleak in any way, with characters that you really come to like and want to see succeed. One of the main characters, in my mind at least is the City itself. There’s no map but by the end of the book you feel you could probably draw one. It’s a huge, sprawling place, amazingly real, and – as I mentioned before – built on so many levels, it’s a bit like Gormenghast. The world-building is sans pareil, and could give many DMs a lesson in how to make something at the same time familiar and yet strikingly new in its exoticism.
It’s 560 pages long, so as fantasy epics go, it’s rather mid-length. I could have done with more pages, to be honest as at no point did I feel that the pace was flagging. I’d recommend it if you like David Gemmell’s work but I think Stella should be read on her own merits – of which, if this is anything to go by, she has plenty.
Benbo, 3rd level Fighter/4th level Thief - he who dares.
Galzor, 4th level cleric - mysteriously disappeared along with the Third and his coffin.
Zanurax, 3rd level thief (recovering from being partly eaten by a lion and has now gone to join Merlin)
Olaf, 4th level dwarven fighter, now returning to his clan halls
Merlin, 3rd level thief (called away on the business of the Thieves' Guild)
Adthar, 4th level fighter - currently both an Ettin and a statue
Elador, nth level magic-user - called away on special assignments but will act as mentor and adviser to the team
Galadeus, 2nd level ranger - drowned and then eaten by a shark.....aaaaaand he's BACK! aaaaaaaaand he's dead again.
What I'm DMing for 6 new junior players
Old School Links to Wisdom
Give your d12...
...some Old School love
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That's what Old School means to me
"These rules are flexible and open to interpretation - designed not to cover all conceivable situations, but to allow good Referees and Players the freedom to create and play games of their own design."
from the Lulu download page for The White Box S&W from BHP
"This game is unlike chess in that the rules are not cut and dried. In many places, they are guidelines and suggested methods only. This is part of the attraction of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons"
Over halfway to 90, I started playing AD&D when the Police were a cool band and Punk was wild. I am a father to a ten-year-old Junior Grognard and have now managed to establish a five-strong gaming group made up of him and four of his friends, ages ranging from 10 to 11. Solidly Old-School.
High fives and natural 20s to you all!